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Navajo Nation members pay respect to COVID-19 victim Arnold Billy in Tuba City, Ariz. PHOTO: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

President Biden declared Wednesday that a major disaster exists for the Navajo Nation over COVID-19 and ordered more federal assistance to fight the pandemic at the nation's largest Native American reservation.

Why it matters: The Navajo Nation, like many Indigenous communities across the U.S., faces a housing shortage that has forced multiple family members to share small homes and a lack of running water that create the opportunity for superspreader events.

  • COVID-19 has claimed more than 1,000 lives on the Navajo Nation.
  • More than 28,000 cases have been reported on the sprawling reservation of 173,000 people.
  • The virus recently killed former tribal President Albert Hale.

Details: Under the disaster declaration, federal funding is available to the Navajo Nation and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures.

  • The declaration came after Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez went with Biden officials to request more COVID-19 vaccines and asked for a disaster declaration.

What they're saying: "The Navajo Nation has also stepped up with millions of dollars of our own funding, health care workers, and resources to fight COVID-19. This is a great step forward and now we have to step up our efforts and coordinate with FEMA,” Nez said.

  • The Navajo Nation declared a Public Health State of Emergency on March 11, 2020, just days prior to its first confirmed case of COVID-19.

What’s next: The Navajo Nation now must get enough health care workers in place to administer the vaccine and work with state officials in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah to ensure its tribal members living off tribal lands also get vaccinated.

  • Other tribal communities may seek a disaster declaration where the virus has disproportionately hit their members.

Go deeper

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 6 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."