Highly vaccinated Navajo Nation keeps cases lower than Arizona amid omicron surge

Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2022 - 2:18pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 8:17am
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The omicron variant has pushed COVID-19 cases to record highs across Arizona in recent weeks. But on the Navajo Nation, aggressive mitigation measures appear to be preventing the most serious health outcomes. 

The Navajo Nation reported a record 525 new cases on Jan. 14. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said while the reservation couldn’t avoid a steep omicron surge, it has managed to keep cases lower than in other parts of the region.

“Compared with the four states around us, the Four Corners states, we are still very low," Nez said in a town hall video Tuesday

The recent rate of cases per capita on the reservation is about 30% lower than Arizona’s statewide rate and cases on the reservation now appear to be falling. 

Nez said the rates of serious illness or death are remaining relatively low, too. The Navajo Nation has reported 12 COVID-19 deaths in the past two weeks. 

“One death is one way too many, but compared with other jurisdictions off the Navajo Nation, our rate of deceased people is very low and not many people are ending up in the hospital because of our high vaccination rate,” Nez said. 

Navajo Nation residents are vaccinated and boosted at a higher rate than Arizonans statewide. Nez reports nearly half of Navajo Nation residents are fully vaccinated with a booster dose. Statewide, just 36% of eligible Arizonans have had a booster. The reservation has had a mask requirement in place since April 2020.