Navajo teenager who went viral reporting on coronavirus
This is not good news, folks.
" Larry Jackson is raising the alarm on the huge number of Covid-19 cases in the Navajo Nation: ‘Why is there no news coverage for us?’
Larry Jackson, 16, would not describe himself as “political”. . . . But last month, Jackson unwittingly went viral after he released a TikTok video raising the alarm on the huge number of Covid-19 cases hitting the Navajo Nation, a territory occupying parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.
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At the time, the Navajo Nation had the third-highest number of Covid-19 cases in the US, and yet Jackson could find scant news on the issue. On Monday this week, the Navajo Nation surpassed New York state for the highest Covid-19 infection rate.
“I was like – everyone knows everything about New York. There are so many different news outlets reporting on this one state. Why is there no news coverage for us, or any Native Americans?” he says. “I just thought that wasn’t fair.
“I just wanted to spread awareness, to give people basic, raw information because I thought the news was sugarcoating it. I wanted to show what it’s like here, the number of Covid-19 cases and the basic resources the Navajo Nation just doesn’t have,” he says.
On Monday, the Navajo Nation (population 357,000) surpassed New York and New Jersey’s Covid-19 cases per 100,000, despite being almost 25 times smaller than New York (19.5m) and New Jersey (8.9m). The figures indicate that coronavirus has penetrated 2.3% of the Navajo Nation’s population, compared with 1.8% in New York state.
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The Navajo Nation is under strict lockdown terms right now, including a 57-hour lockdown rule over the weekends that sees no one coming in or out of the reservation. People can’t leave their homes between 8pm to 5am unless they are an essential worker or have a written pass.
So why are the cases so high? “Thirty per cent of people in the Navajo Nation still don’t have clean running water or electricity. We are being told to regularly wash our hands but for a lot of people that’s a 40 miles plus trip,” Jackson says. “Plus our resources are really low on the Navajo Nation – there are only six hospitals,” he adds.
The Guardian’s own reporting revealed the Navajo Nation received its relief package six weeks after it was promised – only receiving it after suing the federal government. Meanwhile, Indian Country reports that the $8bn relief package set aside for almost 600 Native American Tribes is “woefully inadequate”.
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I ask him what message he wants to leave people with. “I just want us to be seen. Not as ‘other’, but just as people,” he says."
We hear you, Larry--we hear you.