Navajo Nation, Which Had Highest Coronavirus Infection Rate in U.S., Reports Zero New Cases

The Navajo Nation, the largest Native American territory in the U.S., reported no new coronavirus cases for the first time on Tuesday, dropping from one new infection reported Monday, according to the Navajo Department of Health (NDOH).

The latest feat comes nearly six months since the outbreak began in the territory, which once had the highest per capita (100,000 people) infection rate in the U.S.

Back in late May, the Navajo Nation was reported to have 2,450 infections per capita. The infection rate was higher than that reported in two of the country's worst-hit states at the time—New York and New Jersey—which was reported to have 1,827 cases and 1,694 cases per capita, respectively.

The Navajo Nation, home to around 173,600 residents, has seen 9,903 confirmed cases to date, which includes two previously unreported positive cases from July, the Associated Press reported.

The "two additional cases are due to delayed reporting and reconciliation," the NDOH noted.

At least 7,154 patients have recovered from infection and 97,214 virus tests have been administered, according to the latest report Monday by the Navajo Nation.

"No new cases reported today [Tuesday] is good news, but the reality is that our daily numbers will continue to fluctuate as long as there is no vaccine available," Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez noted Tuesday.

"We know how to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but we have to be disciplined enough to continue practicing those safety measures on a daily basis," he added.

In a statement Monday, Nez noted: "We are hopeful that we will not see another spike after the Labor Day weekend, but we won't know for several days."

The Navajo Nation is due to enter another 32-hour partial weekend lockdown starting September 12 at 9 p.m. local time until September 14 at 5 a.m. local time "to help control and prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation," the statement confirmed.

The upcoming lockdown is the latest in a series of lockdowns and curfews issued across the territory over the past few months to mitigate the spread of the virus, which was first reported in the territory around mid-March.

By late April, the virus was reported to be "spreading throughout the Navajo Nation at an alarming rate," Nez and Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer confirmed in a statement on April 21.

The territory's healthcare system reportedly hit capacity as early as late April, the Arizona Republic reported.

Lack of financial resources, among several other shortages including lack of doctors and protective equipment, hampered the Navajo Nation's COVID-19 response effort.

Speaking to Newsweek back in May, Nez said: "We have done the best we could with the limited resources we've had so far and experts have said this [outbreak] could have been worse, a lot worse than what the latest virus figures have shown.

"It would have been a lot worse if it weren't for the proactive measures and the health orders we've issued and the stringent curfews we've been doing here on Navajo Nation. And that was all without federal aid," he said at the time.

Navajo Nation town coronavirus curfew May 2020
A sign warning non-residents to stay out of the Navajo Nation town of Tuba City during a 57-hour curfew issued in May. The Navajo Nation reported no new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

There are reported to be at least 43,139 positive cases among Native American communities covered by the Indian Health Service (IHS).

"Reporting by tribal and urban programs is voluntary," the IHS noted—therefore many cases may have been unreported.

Native Americans are vulnerable to COVID-19 infection due to a host of diseases and health conditions to which they are prone, including coronary heart disease, diabetes, various types of cancer, high blood pressure and obesity, according to the Office of Minority Health (OMH) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates U.S. states with the most COVID-19 cases.

States with most COVID-19 cases

The novel coronavirus has infected over 27.6 million people across the globe, including more than 6.3 million in the U.S. Nearly 898,500 people have died following infection, while over 18.5 million have reportedly recovered, as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

Spread of COVID-19 in U.S.