COVID-19

Native American tribes, facing COVID-19 surges, need more medical, financial aid

Nova Safo May 8, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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COVID-19 cases in the Navajo Nation are expected to peak in the next week or two. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
COVID-19

Native American tribes, facing COVID-19 surges, need more medical, financial aid

Nova Safo May 8, 2020
COVID-19 cases in the Navajo Nation are expected to peak in the next week or two. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Native American tribes are grappling with a surge of COVID-19 cases. The Navajo Nation in the Southwest has one of the worst outbreaks in the country.

The federal government sent billions of dollars in aid this week, but tribes say it’s not enough and their limited infrastructure is being overwhelmed.

In battling the coronavirus, Native American tribes face unique challenges.

“We live in food deserts,” said Allie Young of the Navajo Nation, which is located in parts of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. “Thirty percent of our people don’t have running water. Forty percent of our people don’t have electricity.”

Young has launched a grassroots campaign to enlist medical and financial aid. Her group says there are just 13 ICU beds on the reservation for a population of 175,000 people living in an area bigger than West Virginia.

“The hospital beds are full,” said Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation. “We had to open three alternative care facilities. Those are gymnasiums retrofitted.”

COVID-19 cases on Navajo land are expected to peak in the next week or two. Eighty-five people have already died.

This week the federal government released nearly $5 billion in aid, with $3 billion more available. But one advocacy group estimated tribes will need $20 billion to deal with the pandemic.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out recently from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

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