Utah Addresses Concerns On Navajo Nation While Maintaining Positive Outlook For Rest Of The State
Thursday morning Governor Gary Herbert and other state officials spoke about the state’s COVID-19 response, and the disproportionate impact of the virus on the Navajo Nation in the southeastern corner of the state.
Utah Division of Indian Affairs Executive Director Dustin Jansen shared some of the state’s efforts to aid Native American communities in Utah.
“The department of health and division of emergency management have maintained a situational awareness, communication and collaboration with all tribes and partners,” Jansen said. “All the while respecting the government to government relationship between the state and tribes. Through the department of health and division of emergency management the state remains in constant communication with tribal, state, county, and FEMA partners to support tribal emergency management. Regular meetings are held weekly, sometimes daily, with tribal representatives to ensure that the needs of Utah’s native communities are met.”
Jansen says that they’ve provided mobile testing units to tribal lands within the state, as well as provided PPE, funding and coordination to tribal governments in the state. Governor Gary Herbert emphasized again the concern not only for minority populations disproportionately affected by COVID, but the elderly as well.
“We find that 70% of those who die of COVID-19 are over 65 years of age,” Herbert continued. “90% of those that die are over 65 years of age and/or have an underlying condition. So even though we’ve loosened up to moderate and low level of risk for those vulnerable populations it’s still high risk. So, we need to keep that in mind as we start to open up the economy. To make sure that those people take extra precautions. That we that help them and love them and care for them, help ensure that they take extra precautions.”
Governor Herbert shared a positive outlook on the state’s recovery moving forward.
“I think many parts of the state are getting to a point where they can start thinking about moving from yellow to green,” Herbert said. “That may not happen for a couple of weeks, maybe longer, but the data will inform us on whether we can do that or not. I appreciate the good work of the people of Utah. Because really our ability to open this up and get back to kind of a new normal is based on individual compliance. What we’re willing to do and do our part to make sure that we stay safe and keep those around us safe. So, the protocols continue to evolve as we learn more. This has never been done before so we’re learning as we go. That’s why we continue to update our Utah Leads Together plan and the protocols in place there.”
On Wednesday the state updated guidelines for areas in the yellow low risk designation. The update asks residents to suspend non-essential travel to area’s with widespread transmission. It also encourages symptom checking in public places and businesses where feasible.