The Episcopal Church in Navajoland, the smallest and poorest domestic diocese, is faced with a COVID-19 infection rate that exceeds that of New York City, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The Navajo Nation, a semi-independent reservation occupying parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, had reported 4,253 cases as of May 20. The reservation’s official population is 173,667, giving it a rate of 2,449 cases per 100,000 people. That compares with a rate in New York City, which has been ground zero of the pandemic in the United States, of 2,290 per 100,000.

The reservation, which spans an area larger than West Virginia, faces additional challenges in the form of isolation, poverty, lack of running water, and limited access to groceries. “The need has always been there. … The pandemic has just exacerbated the problem,” Navajoland Bishop David Bailey said in a phone interview with Episcopal News Service.

The Episcopal Church in Navajoland was created as an area mission by General Convention in 1978. It consists of 10 parishes and missions, with 679 baptized members, as of the 2018 parochial report.

ENS recently published an extensive article on the efforts by Navajoland clergy and lay leaders to deliver food and supplies to families on the reservation. Read it here.