CORONAVIRUS

ICU Beds Nearing Capacity On Navajo Nation As Virus Surges

Dec 7, 2020, 10:35 AM | Updated: 3:28 pm

FILE: An American flag with an image of Native American on it is attached to a fence outside a home...

FILE: An American flag with an image of Native American on it is attached to a fence outside a home in the East To'Hajiilee housing community in To'Hajiilee Indian Reservation (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials say nearly all intensive care unit beds on the reservation are being used.

COVID-19 cases are surging and officials warned the tribe is nearing a point where health care workers will have to make difficult decisions about providing care with limited hospital resources.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said there are few options to transport patients to other regional hospitals that are near full capacity.

The tribe has extended its stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the virus. Officials reported 177 additional COVID-19 cases and no deaths related to the virus as of Sunday.

The Navajo Nation is in the Four Corners area and part of it is located in Utah’s San Juan County. 

Officials announced a new alternative care site to be used as a place where people can quarantine after they test positive for COVID-19. The site is opening as a partnership with PAE and AMI companies. 

A news release said the Navajo Nation Health Command Operations Center established the Alternative Care Site at Chinle, Arizona. It will work in conjunction with isolation hotels in Gallup and Farmington, New Mexico. Other sites will open soon in Tuba City and Holbrook, Arizona.  

People who do not require intensive medical care can go to the Chinle location to be monitored by doctors and nurses. The isolation hotels will observe and monitor COVID-19 patients.  People who are waiting for test results can also quarantine at the isolation hotel sites. 

“We have to consider all options to help our health care workers and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you’re positive for COVID-19 and don’t want to risk spreading the virus to those that live under the same roof as you, please strongly consider self-isolating at one of these hotel isolation sites,” said Nez.

People who want to stay at an isolation hotel need a referral from a clinician, public health nurse, community health representative or social worker. 

“Isolation is key to slowing down the spread of COVID-19 in our homes and communities. The Health Command Operations Center, PAE, and AMI have worked to make the isolation sites as comfortable and accommodating as possible. We certainly need more people to volunteer to be isolated due to the overwhelming of our hospital facilities on the Navajo Nation,” said Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer.

“As we continue to experience bed capacity concerns, we must make available safe isolation options for those living in multigenerational homes, living with a person with underlying health conditions, sharing a room and bathroom,” said Dr. Jill Jim, Navajo Department of Health Executive Director. “We must do all we can do to protect our health care workers, high risk families, and especially our elders.”  

Dr. Jim was recently appointed to the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Advisory Board.  

Other information for staying at one of the alternative care sites: 

  • Follow isolation guidelines, which include fulfilling the recommended duration of self-isolation. 7-10 days for isolation and to quarantine 1-2 days while awaiting test results
  • Understand that you may need to be transferred to a hospital or other facility where medical care is available if symptoms escalate
  • Be respectful of other guests and staff members
  • Understand there will be no visitors allowed and there is security on-site 24/7
  • If you choose to leave, you acknowledge that you may be contagious and may be able to infect other people. At this point we would request that the guest complete an Against Medical Advice (AMA) form, and an update will be given to Navajo Nation Health Command Operations Center (NNHCOC) and their referring provider.

Common amenities include meals, television, daily checkups and telemedicine calls with referring provider or case manager. The Chinle site also provides access to Netflix and outdoor space to communicate with family members. Officials also recommend bringing the following items to maximize personal comfort, but are not required:

  • Basic personal hygiene products will be available on site 
  • Comfortable Clothing/sleepwear
  • Shoes/sneakers/slippers/Jacket
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • Soap, shampoo, conditioner
  • Feminine hygiene
  • Makeup, makeup remover
  • Shaving supplies
  • Skin products
  • Brush, comb, hair products
  • Nail supplies/tweezers
  • Glasses, contact lenses, supplies
  • Containers for contacts/dentures
  • Cell phone and charging cables
  • Laptop/iPad/e-reader and chargers
  • Books/magazines/cards
  • Pen/paper
  • Snacks/Drinks

Navajo Department of Health also announced free testing sites for COVID-19. For the month of December, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (MST) on the following days and locations: 

  • Mondays: Kayenta Chapter and Tuba City Chapter
  • Tuesdays: Chinle Chapter
  • Wednesdays: Dilkon Chapter and St. Michaels Chapter
  • Thursdays: Crownpoint Chapter and Shiprock Chapter 

What you need to know prior to attending the drive-thru:  

  • Complete testing form before or at testing site  
  • Stay in your car when you arrive  
  • A testing team member will collect sample  
  • Individuals testing POSITIVE will be notified between 2-3 days of test results  
  • All test results will be shared with the local health facility for contact tracing  
  • Please answer your phone calls, results will not be left on voicemail or text  
  • Contact the Coordination Center at 1-844-935-3932 for results and information on Nation COVID-19 isolation and quarantine resources  
  • Schedule is subject to change due to weather 
  • For questions, contact the Health Command Operations Center: (928) 871-7014  

     Navajo Area IHS also continues to offer COVID-19 testing at each of their service units. For more information, including helpful prevention tips, and resources to help stop the spread of COVID-19, visit the Navajo Department of Health’s COVID-19 website: http://www.ndoh.navajo-nsn.gov/COVID-19. For COVID-19 related questions and information, call (928) 871-7014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Coronavirus

University of Utah's Long COVID clinic, which opened in 2021. (KSL TV)...

Brianna Chavez

More than 3,000 patients treated at University of Utah Long COVID Clinic since 2021, cases ‘still around’

In March 2020 Crystal Pederson tested positive for COVID-19. Months after she questioned why she wasn't feeling any better, until she was treated at University of Utah's Long COVID Clinic.

17 hours ago

FILE - The Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott A...

Associated Press

Supreme Court rejects COVID-19 vaccine appeals from nonprofit founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The Supreme Court has rejected two appeals related to COVID-19 vaccines from Children’s Health Defense, the anti-vaccine nonprofit founded by independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

25 days ago

FILE - Comirnaty, a new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination booster for COVID-19, is displayed at a pharmac...

Jen Christensen, CNN

The FDA tells COVID-19 vaccine makers to update shot to target newest variant

The US Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it had advised the makers of the Covid-19 vaccines to formulate their new shots to be a better match for the JN.1 lineage of the coronavirus.

1 month ago

(FILE) A test dummy getting hit by an air bag during a crash test....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Thousands of cars equipped with faulty airbags on Utah roads as automakers issues ‘Do Not Drive’ warnings

Auto manufacturers have recalled over millions of Takata airbags because of their potential to explode and shoot out sharp metal fragments. And there are still thousands of those in cars across Utah.

1 month ago

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 03: Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Director of the National Institute of Allergy a...

Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

Fauci testifies publicly before House panel on COVID origins, controversies

Dr. Anthony Fauci is facing heated questioning from Republican lawmakers about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2 months ago

A sign reminding Copper Hills High School students and staff to keep their hands clean during the c...

Lindsay Aerts

Utah school districts working to prioritize what stays when COVID relief money runs dry

Utah's school districts are working to figure out how they will continue to pay for programs propped up by COVID-19 relief funds.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

ICU Beds Nearing Capacity On Navajo Nation As Virus Surges