"Lack of potable water drove high Covid-19 rates in Native American communities. That realization may help them gain better representation in upcoming negotiations about Colorado River water."
"While the world watched in horror as refrigerator trailers collected the bodies of Covid-19 victims in New York City, the suffering of Native American people was almost invisible.
The Navajo Nation was enduring an infection rate 21 percent higher than New York during the same time period. And the White Mountain Apache tribe on the New Mexico-Arizona border was grappling with infection rates almost twice as high as the national average.
A key factor driving these staggering infection numbers, according to a new report, was the limited access to water that as many as half of the Native Americans on reservations face. As hard as people across the country found it to practice rigorous hand-washing and social distancing, it was even tougher for many members of the 30 tribes in the Colorado River Basin. Many lacked the clean water essential for sanitizing their homes and bodies to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The new report, Universal Access to Clean Water for Tribes in the Colorado River Basin, brings attention to the challenges many Indigenous people in the region face at a time when talks are set to begin on managing drought and water shortages throughout the river basin. Developed by the Water & Tribes Initiative, a consortium of tribes, nonprofits and academics, the report said the coronavirus exposed the human cost of water insecurity for Native American nations in the West. It also outlined strategies to finally tackle the longstanding crisis that helped make Covid-19 so lethal in Indigenous communities."