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Navajo Nation health care officials are encouraging residents to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as new virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths reach the lowest levels in six months.
The reservation reported zero new virus cases on Monday and no deaths.
The last time the Navajo Nation reported no new cases was in early September, just before a rapid rise in infections led to record-high cases and COVID-19 deaths.
“Zero cases is remarkable, but we can’t let up,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.
Dr. Puthiery Va, an Indian Health Service epidemiologist in Chinle, Arizona, said 57% of Navajo Nation residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 38% are fully vaccinated. More than 191,000 vaccines have been administered on the reservation.
Test positivity rates and COVID-19 hospitalizations have declined for the third straight week.
“Our infection rate tells us that we should expect fewer cases,” Va said. “This decline in cases and decline in burden is pretty well distributed across the Navajo Nation.”
The IHS has administered more than 814,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Indigenous people across the country.
Capt. Brian Johnson, deputy director of the Navajo Area IHS, said the agency is on track to reach 1 million vaccinations by the end of March.
“When we have the rural locations that we have and a lot of the challenges we have just from a logistical standpoint, it’s important to realize how well we’re doing as a health care system and as a people, working together to make sure we get through this pandemic,” Johnson said.
A total of 30,007 Navajo residents have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus as of Monday. More than 16,000 people have recovered and 1,233 people have died from the disease.
“We do know the virus is still circulating, whether we’re talking about here on the (Navajo) Nation or in border towns or in the states or regions we connect with, it’s still here,” Johnson said. “We have to outsmart the virus … This continues to be a fight, and we need not think that the fight is over.”