Phoenix — While Native Americans make up only about 5% of Arizona’s population, they account for 16% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. In fact, the Navajo Nation now has the most coronavirus cases per capita of any state in the U.S.To help provide critically needed screening, testing, and contact tracing support for Navajo and Hopi Nation community members in northern Arizona, Felicia French has volunteered to serve with local health care workers in Navajo Nation. French, a registered nurse, 32-year Army, and AZ National Guard veteran, and former Senior Medical Advisor will serve as a nurse with public health case management at the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation to assist in the most direct way she can during the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Senate candidate Felicia French released the following statement:
“Our Navajo and Hopi neighbors have been disproportionately devastated by this pandemic.”
“Arizona’s native communities are particularly vulnerable to more severe COVID-19 infections due to years of toxic chemical contamination to the air, water, and soil from uranium and coal mining, and coal-powered plant emissions on tribal lands, food deserts, and systemic underfunding of the Indian Health Service. These disparities have been attributed to higher incidences of underlying health problems such as diabetes, cardiovascular, and respiratory disease such as asthma and emphysema, which increase a person’s risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19.”“
Our state needs leaders who will prioritize making basic health care accessible to ALL Arizonans. Smart investments in telehealth and preventative medicine will protect our native and rural communities, as well as improve the health outcomes for our entire state.”
Charlie Fisher, the Arizona DLCC executive director, also released a statement:
“COVID-19 has upended our lives and our world. Now more than ever our communities are relying on the dedication and compassion of medical workers, who are willing to put their health and safety on the line. It comes as no surprise that Col. Ret. Felicia French would step up and aid a community in need. It is exactly those characteristics that have defined her career in the military and medical field and will continue to define her campaign for the state senate.”
This pandemic, and the lack of strongly coordinated Federal and statewide response, has laid bare a pattern of systemic inequities in the basic infrastructure and medical care available to people living in Arizona’s tribal and rural communities.
It is estimated that up to 40% of those living on the reservation have to haul their own water and rely on outhouses for sanitation needs, making it almost impossible to wash their hands properly to protect themselves from being infected by or spreading the coronavirus.
To help support Arizona’s native communities, please contribute to the Navajo and Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund.