Water-Scarce Native American Reservations See Widespread COVID-19 Transmission

Water-Scarce Native American Reservations See Widespread COVID-19 Transmission

COVID-19 Exposes Water Problems for Native Americans

For some Native Americans, water scarcity and lack of clean drinking water access within homes has made the spread of COVID-19 even worse. The Navajo Nation, for example, has become a coronavirus hot spot that even surpassed New York State for the highest per capita infection rate countrywide. At the same time, around 15 percent of Navajos living in the Navajo Nation live without piped water in their homes, according to EPA estimates.

COVID is now a secondary problem,” said Emma Robbins, the director of the Navajo Water Project and a member of the Navajo Nation. “The primary problem is now drinking water.” 

The Navajo Water Project is part of an organization that works to gain access to water, sanitation, and hygiene for US residents. This project specifically attempts to get clean water to Navajo families in New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona through the installation of home drinking water systems in rural areas.

Numerous other Native American tribes regularly experience different but equally harmful water problems across the United States. On the Blackfeet reservation in Montana, people normally have running water, but their well water is frequently polluted. No matter the water problem, indigenous people in the US often don’t have the water infrastructure they deserve, exacerbating quality of life, in general, and the spread of COVID, in particular.

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