Across the desert landscape of two grey hills new mexico
a pickup truck brings food and firewood to a navajo family of seven
whose father died of the covid 19 infection hours earlier.
Relief workers unload the provisions and leave them at the door for the now quarantined family.
Were stepping up for the community members at a time that is so crucial.
Kim Smith heads up a volunteer group made up mostly of Navajo women
who are providing support to a growing number of families
quarantined in homes where a relative has died of covid 19.
The disease caused by the coronavirus.
As big as West Virginia the reservation is a food desert
with only 13 small grocery stores and almost 50 percent unemployment.
Its really important to get this food out especially for our elders
who are more at risk and could be immunocompromised.
The pandemic has laid bare stark inequalities in health care housing and basic services
between the Navajo nation and the states of new Mexico Utah and Arizona.
Its just shedding light on the disparities that have already existed
and also the lack of federal funding
to meet the demand of the health needs.
Cora Tso a Navajo woman who recently graduated from law school in Arizona lost her grandparents to Covid 19 in May.
They started to feel sick and by the end of April they were really bad
and they were in the hospital for a couple of weeks.
My mom texted me and told me that my grandpa passed on
and then in the afternoon my grandma also passed on.
So they passed on within hours of each other on the same day.
The last time that I talked to them they were really excited
and were looking forward to come to watch me graduate.
So says she believes her grandparents deaths came prematurely due to a lack of infrastructure on the reservation.
One of the biggest things that we can do to help combat this virus
is to wash our hands and is to stay healthy and stay hydrated.
And for a lot of members on the navajo reservation the infrastructure difficulties really exacerbates the problem.
Chris Beecher is a former chairman of the Navajo housing authority.
He says covid 19 has exposed the chronic underfunding of the Navajo nation.
The biggest issues we face are not new health disparities, economic disparities, employment educational.
All of them relate to chronic underfunding by the US government.
Having broadband connectivity across the Navajo nation would also be a huge boon to the economy he says.
And for education.
You can see that by not investing in indian country you put native American children at a disadvantage.
What we need is continue sustained increasing funding for native american tribes
in order to meet the needs and just to keep up.
Until then people who want to help will do what they can to alleviate suffering where they see it.
Thats what were here for ultimately as young people to be able to sacrifice ourselves, sacrifice our wellbeing,
So that more of our people dont get sick.
Julie Tabo voa news
Julie Tabo 报道