Because the virus unfold, their scenario turned much more dire.On the Navajo Nation, spanning greater than 27,000 sq. miles throughout components of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, an estimated 30% of residents haven’t got entry to operating water, making early hand washing steering inconceivable to stick to.Many different elements put them at larger threat: a scarcity of sources, data and entry to masks and medical care on high of poor infrastructure and inadequate housing circumstances.At one level, the Navajo Nation skilled Covid-19 an infection charges that had been among the many highest per capita in the USA. Whereas the variety of new circumstances has been trending downward, Navajo elders are nonetheless dying at alarming charges.”There are various, many aged folks on the reservation which might be homebound and alone,” mentioned CNN Hero Linda Myers, whose non-profit offers lifesaving provides for Native American elders. “A few of our elders reside 60 miles from a grocery retailer. A lot of them are conventional and haven’t got operating water or electrical energy.” Thus far, the Navajo Nation has reported practically 9,000 optimistic circumstances of Covid-19 and 453 deaths. Greater than 60% of the deceased had been age 60 and older. Myers has spent a long time supporting Navajo elders via her non-profit, Undertake-A-Native-Elder — which presently serves greater than 750 folks ages 75-105. She says 26 elders in her program have died. And the pandemic has solely elevated the elders’ isolation and worry. “We have now … households with the virus at completely different hospitals (throughout the reservation),” Myers mentioned. “Certainly one of our elders misplaced her son, her daughter, her sister and her sister’s daughter.”Shedding Navajo elders is devastating, Myers says, not simply to households and family members, however for Navajo historical past. “They maintain the life for his or her households. They keep it up the traditions, the ceremony, the language, the weaving. All of the issues come from these elders’ teachings,” she mentioned. “It is a piece of historical past, a bit of tradition.”Myers, who lives in Salt Lake Metropolis and makes journeys to the reservation a number of instances a yr, is working with donors and companions on the bottom to ship meals, masks and different provides to the elders in the course of the pandemic. “When the virus hit, we shortly turned all the pieces into meals certificates, realizing particular diets, realizing particular medical wants,” she mentioned. “We have now despatched $225,000 worth of meals certificates to our elders to assist them maintain themselves, to permit them to get the correct of meals, the recent meals, the recent meat, in order that they don’t seem to be simply counting on canned meals objects.”The Navajo Nation has carried out a few of the nation’s most in depth lockdown orders, together with curfews, closures and different restrictions. However the brand new guidelines additionally pose a brand new set of challenges for these in distant areas. “Our elders … should go generally 18 miles to select up their water. They wait in lengthy traces. They should haul their water barrels,” Myers mentioned. “With the buying and selling put up closed, they’ve little or no entry to the sorts of issues which might be conventional issues for Navajo folks.”To that finish, Undertake-A-Native-Elder has additionally ramped up efforts to ship yarn to elders who assist themselves via weaving. “Whereas they’re in lockdown, they have been in a position to weave. They ship us the rugs. We record them on our web site on the market. So we’re serving to them nonetheless maintain themselves of their conventional method,” Myers mentioned.All proceeds from the sale of the rug go on to the weaver. The group can also be working forward to get truckloads of firewood delivered to all of its elders in time for winter, when temperatures on the reservation can dip under zero. “Firewood — six or seven a great deal of firewood — makes an enormous distinction in conserving the elders heat all day and all night time,” Myers mentioned.Myers, who has recognized these elders and their households for greater than 35 years, says her work is ongoing and he or she’s impressed by supporters coming collectively in a time of disaster. “I wish to focus, too, on the great and optimistic that I see. The largest factor is that individuals have stepped up. It is introduced extra folks to consciousness,” she mentioned. “It is actually made a distinction.” Wish to become involved? Try the Undertake-A-Native-Elder web site and see how you can assist.