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Northern Arizona Coronavirus Cases Grow As Navajo Nation Infections Continue To Surge


Medical experts in northern Arizona expect cases of COVID-19 to continue to surge through the end of the month. It’s in part due to the rapid growth in infections on the Navajo Nation. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

According to Northern Arizona Healthcare, the largest provider in the region, the increase rate in coronavirus cases on the Navajo Nation is greater than New York City. If the reservation were a state it would rank third in the nation of cases per capita with 599 cases per 100,000 people, based on 2010 U.S. Census data.

NAH says high numbers of patients from the Navajo Nation are arriving at Flagstaff Medical Center. The disease is spreading more rapidly there than most other parts of the country.

Between 15 and 21 patients on average are transferred daily primarily to FMC and most are from the reservation. According to Navajo President Jonathan Nez's office, 121 more cases were reported Thursday for a total of 1,042 known infections of COVID-19. Forty-one deaths have now been confirmed on the Navajo Nation.

NAH officials say they haven’t yet seen the so-called flattening of the curve at their facilities. They anticipate the peak caseload of coronavirus patients at its hospitals to come after the state peak, which is expected to hit later this month.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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