While some states are beginning to contemplate reopening their economies in the wake of an apparent flattening of the curve, and while the President continues to demonstrate his incompetence to anyone with the eyes to see and the ears to listen, a simple cold truth remains: this pandemic is a long ways from being over, and the disease is hitting Native American communities and other peoples of color particularly hard. Some of the media, once it takes its eyes off the nation’s Rotten Toddler-in-Chief, are beginning to take notice.
Rebecca Nagle, who is always worth reading, has a piece in The Guardian in which she reports that although 80% of state health departments have released some racial demographic data, half of them “did not explicitly include Native Americans in their breakdowns and instead categorized them under the label ‘other.” In an attempt to counter the Coronavirus pandemic, the University of California at San Francisco sent seven doctors and fourteen nurses to treat patients on the hard-hit Navajo Nation, according to a story appearing in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle. Utah Governor Gary Herbert, aware of racial disparities in the contraction of COVID-19, announced the creation of a new multicultural task force to attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus. The state’s eight Native American tribes “are a specific focus for the task force.” Many researchers are worried about the impact of the pandemic on rural communities across the country.
While we can be certain that President Trump’s suggestion that ingesting disinfectants will not cure coronavirus, various social-distancing measures have worked. The non-profit organizations IllumiNative and Harness drafted celebrities to encourage the Native American community to come together by staying apart. IllumiNative is also hosting a virtual town hall on the 30th of April that will live stream on their Facebook page. “Now is the time to fight for the visibility of Native peoples, care for our communities, and ensure that Native peoples are seen, heard, and included in solutions and conversations about this public health emergency,” said IllumiNative on its website. You can watch the three-minute long public service announcement right here.
The Reno Gazette Journal ran a story yesterday showing how members of the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe has confronted grocery store shortages that have accompanied the pandemic. Autumn Harry has turned to fishing, not just for herself, but for “elders and others in the community because she recognizes the importance of maintaining health food sources during the emergency, especially for people who can’t leave their houses.”
Meanwhile distribution of the $8 billion dollars in government funding for Native American communities remains a colossal mess. You can continue to follow the news in this story from the Associated Press.
Take care of yourselves, people, and don’t drink bleach.