The Indian Health Service reported on July 7 that there were a total of 22,539 confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout IHS areas, including 8,834 on the Navajo Nation and 1,114 in the Great Plains region in South Dakota where the Pine Ridge Indian and Cheyenne River reservations are located.
That total number is more than the numbers of confirmed cases in nearly half the states, as well as the city of Washington, DC, and U.S. territories.
And the way things are going right now, we fear the situation is going to get worse before it gets better.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation,” stated the IHS. “The potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high.
“We must be vigilant in our efforts to slow the spread of infections among our patients and within the communities we serve.”
At Running Strong for American Indian Youth, we are doing all we can to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus throughout Indian Country.
In recent weeks and months, thanks to the compassionate and generous Running Strong supporters, we have been able to respond to urgent requests for critical assistance from our partners throughout Indian County by shipping dozens of pallets each weighing an average of 500 pounds stacked with gallons of hand sanitizer, thousands of bars of soap, pairs of latex gloves, diapers, and more.
In addition, we shipped tens of thousands of pounds of non-perishable food items to the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Sioux reservations where food insecurity has always been a serious problem, and even more so now as the coronavirus pandemic has been a bad situation worse.
On the Navajo Nation, where there have been 382 deaths as of July 8, we expedited emergency shipments of 128 gallons of hand sanitizer, 3,120 bars of soap, and more to our longtime partner Anita Begay, director of Today We Follow – Tomorrow We Lead and to 2019 Running Strong Dreamstarter Jacob Crane for distribution there.
And to our loyal and dedicated supporters, our national spokesman, Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota) wanted to share this message of thanks:
“Despite my own fear for my people, my heart remains filled with joy, gratitude and optimism because there are people such as yourself in this world who think not only of themselves in these trying times, but of our fellow Americans living in the most impoverished communities in the country.”