The military has sent medical personnel to the vast Navajo Nation Reservation, which has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We consider this obligation sacred and will work tirelessly to alleviate the burden of the coronavirus on the Navajo Nation," Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said in a statement Wednesday.
About 25 Navy Rapid Rural Response Team medical personnel have deployed to two Indian Health Service Hospitals -- the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico, and the Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility in Chinle, Arizona.
Elements of the Army Reserve's 377th Theater Sustainment Command from New Orleans; the 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command from San Antonio, Texas; and the 1st Infantry Division's Sustainment Brigade from Fort Riley, Kansas, are providing backup for the medical teams, according to an Army North news release.
The deployments are being overseen by Army North at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Health Service, and come as the first vaccinations began on the reservation this week.
"The arrival of the Pfizer vaccine is a blessing for all of our people, including the doctors, nurses and many other health care warriors who are helping and treating all of our people," Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a release.
Through Wednesday, the Navajo Nation had reported a total of 20,095 positive cases of COVID-19 and 731 deaths on the reservation, which extends over parts of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. The Nation has extended its stay-at-home lockdown order through Dec. 28.
On Thursday, the Navajo Department of Health reported an additional 221 coronavirus cases and two more deaths.
About 175,000 people live on the reservation, which covers an area larger than West Virginia.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.