Editor’s note: Less then 24 hours after this report, the New Mexico governor’s office confirmed an outbreak on Zia Pueblo, with 31 positive cases, plus an outbreak on San Felipe Pueblo, with 52 cases. And Zuni Pueblo Governor Val Panteah confirmed 15 cases and one death on Zuni. Eleven members of Zia Pueblo in Sandoval County have tested positive for COVID-19, New Mexico In Depth has learned.
“As of today April 5th, the Pueblo of Zia has confirmed 11 Zia Tribal Members, potentially 20, infected by COVID-19(Coronavirus),” Acting Governor Floyd Toribio wrote Sunday in a memo to tribal members.
The pueblo, about 40 miles north of Albuquerque, has fewer than 1,000 members, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, making Zia one of the smallest pueblos in New Mexico.
“If this statement does not make you realize how real and close to home this truly is, then we don’t know what will. We are a small, close-knit community with strong family connections,” Toribio said in the memo.
The nature of the fast-spreading virus put tribal and state officials on alert Monday in a state that is home to 19 Pueblos, three Apache tribes, and a portion of the Navajo Nation.
“We are endangered communities and one person lost to the virus takes a toll on the entire community,” said J. Michael Chavarria, Governor of Santa Clara Pueblo and Chairman of the All Pueblo Council of Governors, in an email. Many households in New Mexico’s tribal communities include multiple generations, with five or more family members living under the same roof, tribal officials said.