Health Highlights: April 5, 2021

Navajo Nation Curbs COVID-19 Cases

The Navajo Nation recently reported no coronavirus cases and no COVID-19 deaths in a 24-hour period, a notable achievement considering that the second largest tribe in the United States once had one of the highest coronavirus case rates in the country.

The tribe has more than 300,000 enrolled members and is currently averaging about 11 new cases a day, compared with a peak of 250 in late November, Navajo Department of Health data show, The New York Times reported.

The tribe has vaccinated more than half of its 170,000 residents living on tribal lands, which is a higher rate than any state.

COVID-19 death rates among indigenous Americans — who have high rates of health conditions such as diabetes and obesity — have been nearly twice that of white Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Times reported.

Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation, said the tribe tamed the virus by following strict lockdown orders and a mask mandate first imposed nearly a year ago.

“It wasn’t about restricting people’s freedoms when we told people to wear a mask or to stay home. It was looking at the greater good,” Nez told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Vaccination efforts have also been a huge success, with about just over 218,000 shots given (nearly 90 percent of the doses allocated) and more than 88,500 people fully vaccinated.

“I think just because of how hard hit the Navajo Nation was, we’ve seen a big increase in participation in taking the vaccine,” Nez said, adding that officials have been holding town hall meetings to build trust and answer questions about the virus.

Vaccine Passports to Be Part of Britain’s Reopening Plan

A pilot project involving “vaccine passports” will be among the measures included in the British government’s plan to fully reopen the economy as it continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other proposals in the plan expected to be unveiled Monday include frequent mass testing with at-home test kits, according to British media.

“Massive efforts have been made by the British public to stop the spread of the virus,” Johnson said in a statement released Sunday. “As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine program and with our road map to cautiously easing restrictions underway, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted.”

British authorities plan to make the tests available to residents on a twice-weekly basis. Critics, however, have said that the rapid tests, which provide results in about 30 minutes, are flawed and shouldn’t be relied on to tame the pandemic.

The proposed vaccine passports, or “coronavirus status certifications,” would show whether a person has been vaccinated, recently tested negative for the coronavirus or has natural immunity due to previous infection within the last six months, the Washington Post reported.

However, the measure is likely to be controversial. It would require parliamentary approval, and 70 MPs recently started a campaign to oppose COVID-19 certifications.