Doctors Without Borders Sends COVID-19 Response Team To Navajo Nation

Doctors Without Borders is rushing aid to combat a huge surge of COVID-19 cases in the Navajo Nation, a region with some of the highest rates of infection in the country. This is the first time that the organization of medical professionals, which has teams in Iran and Afghanistan, has ever had a presence in the United States.

The Navajo Nation, in the U.S. southwest and home to around 170,000, now has more COVID-19 cases per capita than any other state in America. Residents in Navajo Nation are already high-risk since Navajo people carry a high-risk for diabetes and hypertension. The region currently has more confirmed COVID-19 deaths than 46 U.S. states.

"I think it's difficult for Americans to realize how big this country is and how the needs are so different in each place," Jean Stowell, head of the organization's U.S. COVID-19 Response Team said. "You know, urban needs are very different than rural needs. And the needs of the Native American community are challenging because they look so different than the needs elsewhere, so they require a pretty significant coordinated effort."

Stowell also noted that the Navajo Nation is at high-risk because "they don't have access to the variety of things to self-isolate. You can't expect people to isolate if they have to drive 100 miles to get food and water." 1 in 3 Navajo Nation residents lack access to running water.

The Doctors Without Borders team has plans to remain in the Navajo Nation until the end of June. Read the full story on CBS News.

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