‘American Diagnosis’ Episode 1: On the Navajo Nation, Root Causes Complicated the Covid Fight


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Episode 1: It’s Up to You — T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego

Travel to the forests outside the Grand Canyon to follow Dr. Sophina Calderon and other Navajo Nation leaders as covid-19 tests the Diné people.

Roughly 30% of the homes on the Navajo Nation rely on wood-burning stoves for heat. Many of those households haul wood from nearby forests. That’s what Calderon was doing when she realized the pandemic’s reach wouldn’t stop at the hospital — it was going to create a heating crisis too.

This episode explores root causes behind why some citizens of the Navajo Nation lack access to electricity and other infrastructure, and how so-called social determinants of health made the Diné so vulnerable to the first surges of the pandemic.

Voices from the episode:

Episode 1 includes audio of pine siskin birds recorded in Coconino, Arizona, courtesy of contributor Parker Davis via the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML153777441).

A transcript of the episode will be available 4-5 days after the episode posts.


Season 4 of “American Diagnosis” is a co-production of KHN and Just Human Productions.

To hear all KHN podcasts, click here.

Listen and follow “American Diagnosis” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google or Stitcher.

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