Normally, at this time of the year, the site is known worldwide Monument Valley should be crossed by tourists. Instead of what the western landscape became a virulent outbreak of COVID-19 wreaking havoc among the native american tribes.
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If one associate usually its rocks and its ochre sand to the films of John Wayne, its scopes today see dr. Wendell Key is to make car in car on the parking lot of a nursing facility to refer its patients, of the Navajos, in their vehicle.
Dollie Crank, 63 years old, has already been tested positive for the coronavirus and is placed in quarantine. But its symptoms, which include difficulty in breathing, worsening.
“I would prefer her to go to the hospital,” says Dr. Key behind his mask, N 95.
“She will need oxygen and possibly respiratory support if it gets worse”, he adds in the auscultant.
The sick, she strives to look on the bright side. “I’m not very worried, I know that I can get out of it”, she said before leaving in his pick-up, in the direction of the hospital.
The tribe of the Navajos, with 175 000 members spread across the States of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, regrets 4200 diagnosed cases and nearly 150 deaths. One of the highest mortality rates in the country, which is explained by the lack of resources in a population health often already fragile.
The county of San Juan of Utah, where the centre of care in Monument Valley, was so far spared but sees at this time an outbreak of cases.
Because of the scarcity and high price of healthy food and good quality, a lot of Navajos are obese and have diabetes, which aggravates the case of COVID-19.
In addition, they are 30% do not even have running water, which of course complicated the application of gestures barriers the most simple.
A lot of Navajos of Monument Valley live off tourism and have been hit by the closure of the park for sanitary reasons, in April.
What weaken even more households where the median annual income is $ 20,000.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of cars met at the visitor centre, which was converted into a point of distribution of food and medical aid.
“The price to pay is very heavy for our people,” explains charging using in-car Lanell Mernard-Parrish, 49, who works for the local branch of the government of the navajo.
This woman has just lost her mother-in-law, swept away by the coronavirus. The worst, she explains, is that no one has been able to be at her side when she died.
“As soon as it was discovered that she was ill, she was hospitalized. It is there only remained six days after he was tested positive, and then we lost it, ” she said.
Several governors, americans have already begun to “re-open” their State, considering that the containment and the shutdown of the economy were more dangerous than the health risks, particularly in the rural areas.
Arizona must re-open the Grand Canyon this weekend, even if the number of infections continues to rise in the State.
But the president of the Navajo Nation, Jonathan Nez, said he is concerned about the effects on his tribe of excursions of tourists who would like to in spite of everything come to Monument Valley, which will remain closed until the curve of infections to be flattened.
“We have our own government, our own laws. And we use it to protect our citizens and the tourists,” he explains. These last, if they were to enter illegally in the park, risk a fine of 1000 dollars and 30 days in jail.