Published May 27, 2021 by Shondiin Silversmith, Arizona Republic:

Along the walkway near the entrance of the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation in Peridot, stood several small beige-colored buildings.

Inside the buildings, patients waiting to be seen at the hospital were screened for symptoms of COVID-19 before they could go inside.

Over the past year, multiple screening buildings were set up outside the hospital, but as of May, only one remains as COVID-19 cases continue to decline within the community.

As of May 24, nearly a year after the first confirmed case, the average number of positive COVID-19 cases was down to 0.6% a week, according to San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation. It was a dramatic turnaround in a community where a third of the population was infected over the past year.

When COVID-19 hit Arizona, it affected Indigenous communities across the state, including the San Carlos Apache Tribe. Like many tribes, San Carlos closed its community in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

And it worked. San Carlos officials reacted quickly, provided COVID-19 testing to everyone, helped educate community members, made sure health care was adequate and, when the time came, ramped up vaccine distribution.

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 on the San Carlos Apache Nation came on May 27, 2020, months after cases were confirmed elsewhere in the state and in other Arizona tribes.

“We were blessed to have that time,” said Victoria Began, San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation CEO. “We got our teams ready to care for COVID-19 patients.”

The San Carlos Apache Tribe has over 17,000 members, with over 13,000 of them living on San Carlos Apache Nation in the southeastern part of Arizona.

Read the full article at AZ Central: