State, Nonprofits Provide COVID-19 Relief To Navajo Nation

Jun 1, 2020

In response to the high need in the underserved area of Navajo Nation, Rotary Clubs and nonprofits across the state gathered thousands of pounds of food, personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to deliver to Montezuma Creek over Memorial Day weekend. 

One of the people who helped was Devin Thorpe, a democratic congressional candidate for Utah’s 3rd District.

"The COVID-19 outbreak was very severe on the Navajo Nation — on par with New York State or worse. But instead of being one of the most affluent communities in the country, it might well be the lowest income community in the country," he said. "The combination of poverty and shuttered economy on the Navajo Nation just brought the Navajo community to its knees, and so Rotary engaged starting with the clubs that had already been doing projects with Navajo Nation."

Thorpe said he was overwhelmed by the level of support the project received throughout the state.

“We set up a two-hour donation site at my LDS Church house here in Salt Lake City. And I took my little car over expecting that in the two hours I would be able to fill my little car. In fact, we ended up going four vehicles, just to the gills, and completely overwhelming our ability to collect. It was just shocking, but that same experience was played out over, I think seven or eight different collection sites.”

Churches sewed face masks, the Little Lambs Foundation donated diapers, and the Cache Community Food Pantry donated food. Karina Brown, a democratic Lt. Gov. candidate of Nibley, and her friend Sunny Stewart, of Logan, got up at 6 a.m. to drive their haul down to southern Utah and met up with Thorpe and other volunteers. Thorpe said the unloading process took hours — even with help from volunteers and members of the Navajo community, including those from the Utah Navajo Health System.

“The Utah Navajo Health System has been making food deliveries to those families that are in quarantine because of COVID-19, and there's also families that came would come to the clinic where we dropped off all the food," Brown said. "They would come there, there's about over 100 of them that would come daily to get supplies and food that they need.”

In addition to local nonprofit efforts, state officials have sent testing, medical supplies and personnel to the area. And, according to gubernatorial candidate and current Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, the Farmers Feeding Utah program is helping get food to Navajo Nation immediately.

“Farmers Feeding Utah sent more than 300 live sheep, with another 300 live sheep planned for next Monday, and 16,000 pounds of frozen lamb to Southern Utah," Cox said in a press briefing last week. "They also donated more than 10,000 pounds of flour to members of the Utah chapters of the Navajo Nation.”

More information on how to help is available at the following sites:

www.unhsinc.org/donation

coronavirus.utah.gov/help

store.nexternal.com/dha/utah-tribal-covid-19-relief-c30.aspx