By Recker McDowell —
COVID-19 has caused unprecedented stresses and strains on public health and jobs. The pandemic has magnified social, political and culture divisions.
But it also bringing out the best in people. Many of our neighbors are stepping forward and helping others when they need it most.
Students and staff at Scottsdale Community College have been doing this for the Navajo Nation, which has faced high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
The Navajo Nation has a population of 174,000. It has had 8,098 COVID cases and 396 deaths. By comparison, New Hampshire (population 1.36 million) has had 390 deaths. Utah (population 3.16 million) has had 207 Coronavirus deaths, according Johns Hopkins University. The Navajos have more total cases that Malaysia (population 28 million).
The COVID situation has been and continues to bad on the Navajo Nation.
This is where the SCC has stepped up and helped. Students and staff have been sewing and donating protective masks and donating other supplies. Other volunteers from local community colleges and other groups have also been helping the Navajo Nation and other communities in need.
“We outreached to a number of individuals for participation – some were students, others were SCC employees, still others throughout the Maricopa Community College District, and we even had an outside church group that heard about our project and offered to help,” said Becky Bradley, SCC’s Director of Service-learning & Leadership and who helped lead the mask making effort.
Some volunteers are transporting supplies and helping the Navajo Nation on site. The Navajos and other rural tribes and communities also need help with supplies of firewood, bottled water, transport vehicles, hay for livestock, food baskets and sterilized food containers. A number of residents on the Navajo Nation not only do not have easy access to health care but they also sometimes lack potable water and quick access to grocery stores and pharmacies.
“This was a small way to make a real difference in the lives of the Navajo Nation and the frontline workers assisting them in their battle against COVID-19,” said Bradley. “For SCC, I think it was a way to show that Native people absolutely matter, and Artichokes truly do have hearts.”
We need see even more of these Good Samaritan works and highlight more of these efforts helping communities hit by COVID-19 who have less access to health care and are outside of major media markets and the political fights over the virus.
The social media, political bickering and grandstanding and partisan fights over responses to COVID can be less useful than actually addressing the pandemic and how it exposes some structural challenges with access to health care and underlying health conditions making virus so serious for many.
Farming communities such as Yuma and El Centro, California, communities with poultry and meat packing facilities as well as those with jails, and prisons often in rural areas have high per capita rates of COVID-19.
The kids and staff at Scottsdale Community College are just one blueprint of how we can all help our neighbors in need.