Doctors Without Borders confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that the international organization dispatched a team to help the Navajo Nation battle the coronavirus outbreak in a rare mission inside the United States. Nico D’Auterive, spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders, says that the organization is “focused on providing technical guidance to health care facilities and organizations to assist with infection prevention and control.” The nine-person team, including two physicians and three nurses, arrived in the Navajo Nation in April and plans to stay until sometime in June. The University of California, San Francisco also announced that seven physicians and 14 nurses would be sent to the Navajo Nation to assist in the tribe’s fight against the virus.
The Navajo Nation, which consists of about 170,000 people, has more confirmed COVID-19 cases per capita than any state in the U.S. with about 1,786 cases per 100,000 people. It also has a documented shortage of both medical professionals and ICU beds. The CARES Act, which President Trump signed into law on March 27, allocated $8 billion in relief funding to tribes across the country, including $600 million to the Navajo Nation. However, residents claim that the infrastructure of the local health care system is so weak that organizations like Doctors Without Borders will need to step in to distribute much-needed aid and supplies.
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