Tackling new spikes in COVID-19 cases across Indian Country
From March until September, our Center was embedded with tribal organizations and the Indian Health Service in comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation strategies that helped flatten the curve with the Navajo Nation and White Mountain Apache Tribe, some of the hardest hit areas in the US. We learned important lessons about how to interpret data with tribal leaders to inform policies about lockdowns or reopening. In addition, we developed community-based outreach systems that paired contact-tracing with wrap-around services to help families quarantine and isolate safely—delivering water, food, medicines and hygiene kits directly to their homes. As we turn toward the second wave of the pandemic, many more tribal communities are requesting our help, while we have to tamp down a resurgence of cases in the Southwest. We must continue to give strong support to our well-skilled and courageous Native American workforce and find resources to support families to stay safe physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Our new efforts will include delivering data support to tribes so tribal leaders and health departments can make informed policy decisions. Toward that end, our infectious disease and health communication experts are developing a web-based COVID-19 response guide that tribes across the country can easily access to help keep cases down and address outbreaks. It is time for new resolve as we prepare for what is ahead, given projections of cases rising around the country, and as we enter the colder months when people will be indoors more. Thank you for standing with us—as our battle continues.
New NIH-funded project aims to improve COVID-19 testing and more rapid treatment
Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) grant will support “Protecting Native Families from COVID-19”
The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health has been awarded a prestigious Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) grant from the NIH to aid COVID-19 prevention through safety practices and reducing time from symptoms to testing in the White Mountain Apache Tribe and Navajo Nation, two Native American tribes disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
NativeVision year-round program reaches children virtually during pandemic
When the pandemic hit, our school-based NativeVision program changed gears and created a YouTube channel in order to continue to reach children with the program’s key messages to eat healthy and stay physically active. The channel houses fun videos featuring NativeVision coaches leading exercise sessions and encouraging kids to lead healthy lifestyles, and also includes content from other youth development programs.
We are excited to soon add a video from Chicago Bulls NBA player Cristiano Felicio, who reached out to us several months ago to support our Center. He is eager to help reach kids virtually with some of his favorite basketball drills, and to become a coach at NativeVision camp when we are able to gather again in person. Thank you, Cristiano!
Celebrating the One-Year Anniversary of our Great Lakes Hub
In October 2019, we were thrilled to open a new Center hub in Duluth, MN, dedicated to serving tribal members across 11 Ojibwe Bands in the Great Lakes region (MN, WI and parts of Canada), led by Melissa Walls, PhD (Bois Forte and Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe). The Great Lakes Hub is advancing leading-edge research focused on preventive interventions for diabetes, substance use, mental disorders and physical health issues.
The Impact of Chronically Underfunded Healthcare for Tribal Communities
We recommend this excellent article in USA Today about the COVID-19 pandemic in McKinley County, NM, and in particular its impact on the Navajo Nation. The in-depth reporting, accompanying video, infographics and interactive timeline provide a good primer of historical atrocities, broken treaties and chronic underfunding of vital health care infrastructure in tribal communities. The article shows how the COVID-19 pandemic is another example of how "systemic racism, from historical subjugation to contemporary poverty" continue to perpetuate poor health for tribal communities. Dr. Laura Hammitt, our Center’s Director of Infectious Disease Programs, is quoted.