Can the Navajo Nation survive coronavirus?

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Native American communities are so disproportionately affected by the coronavirus that the Navajo Nation, the largest reservation in the US, has a higher per-capita infection rate than any state in the nation.

This week the tribe’s death toll reached at least 241 with as many as 5,250 people testing positive.

Stemming the tide has proven a monumental task given years of federal government neglect, a lack of running water, high rates of chronic illness and an ageing population. In an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, tribal leaders have instituted as many as seven weekend lockdowns during which nobody was permitted to leave or enter the reservation.

Despite the challenges, younger people have stepped up and played a pivotal role in their community’s grassroots response. Many feel it’s on their shoulders to protect their elders lives and ensure their traditions are passed down.

In this episode of the Stream we meet people from the Navajo Nation and ask why they are so disproportionately affected and what can be done to turn the tide.
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