Arizona Coronavirus News: Food Bank Feeds 2,000 Families on Navajo Nation

By Jessica Swarner

April 15, 2020

As coronavirus continues to spread, many Navajo families are struggling with food insecurity.

Coronavirus cases and deaths continue to climb within the Navajo Nation. The tribe’s president, Jonathan Nez, tweeted Tuesday night that there are now 838 cases and 33 deaths reported on the reservation. 

Nez also noted that there have been 3,107 coronavirus tests that have returned negative results as of Tuesday. 

The same day, the Navajo Police Department announced two of its officers had tested positive for the virus. The department said in a Facebook post that the officers are self-quarantining.

“Our employee’s health and wellbeing is a priority and as essential employees working in the field of public safety, we are not immune from the possibility of having one of our law enforcement family contract the virus. As the numbers of positive cases increase across the Navajo Nation, so does our risk of being exposed,” Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco said in the post. “The health and safety of our officers and the staff who work closely with them are a priority and we will monitor all personnel as we continue to provide essential services.”

Overall, cases in all of Arizona increased again Wednesday, with the total number reaching 3,962. There have now been 142 reported deaths.

chart showing coronavirus cases and deaths for Navajo Nation, Arizona, U.S. and world
Courier Newsroom IllustrationDesirée Tapia

St. Mary’s Feeds 2,000 Navajo Families

Many families on Navajo Nation already struggle with food insecurity, and the pandemic has made meals even more difficult to come by. 

In response, St. Mary’s Food Bank recorded its largest ever single mobile pantry distribution on Tuesday when it gave out meals to 2,000 families in Tuba City. 

According to the food pantry, the line of cars waiting to get into the site before it opened stretched five miles long.

St Marys Food Bank Photo

The nonprofit brought four semitrucks full of 90,000 pounds of food. 

St. Mary’s reduced physical contact during the drive by having all recipients stay in their cars, show their IDs through their car windows, and indicate their number of family members by holding up fingers. 

“The need is that great. The anxiety is palpable,” St. Mary’s wrote in a Facebook post. “But the volunteers, St. Mary’s and, thanks to YOU, the comfort of food to take home and stay safe was there. And there was a reason to smile.”

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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