Follow-up on Nurse Tayler: The struggles she faces as pandemic continues to get worse at the Navajo Nation Reservation

“I was at the point … GO-GO-GO. 

Just numb. 

You’re kind of set to thinking in disaster mode – ‘I have to do this’, running on adrenaline all the time – but then, after 6 months, the adrenaline starts to wear off, and you just get kind of tired of seeing death and suffering. 

It’s especially hard to deal with when you know, ‘there are so many things that can be done to prevent all that you are seeing and it’s just not happening.'”

-Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse 

Update on Covid-19 Pandemic at the Navajo Nation Reservation

Above image: Provided by Nurse Taylor (taken in Arizona at the Navajo Nation Reservation)

According to the Indian Health Service, “the Navajo Nation Reservation is the largest Indian Reservation in the United States, comprising of about 16 million acres, or about 25,000 square miles” – stretched across three states – Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.”

Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, the Navajo Nation has been hit the hardest in America. The Navajo Nation Council released a statement, ‘the Navajo Reservation has reported over 18,000 Coronavirus cases’, with over ‘600 deaths since March‘. Furthermore, with considerations to the fact that the daily cases are high – 159 – and ICU beds have reached their  capacity, the Navajo Department of Health has put the Navajo Nation Reservation under a Stay at Home Order (December 2, 2020) for three weeks, which includes a 57-hour weekend lockdown order. 

With this in mind, I decided to do a follow-up story with Nurse Tayler Oakes, whom I spoke with four months ago – in August 2020. Furthermore, Nurse Tayler told me about what she was experiencing as she conducted Contact Tracing for the Coronavirus. As for this follow-up story, I wanted to find out if things have changed – good or bad – for the Navajo people or Diné as they prefer to be called. Diné means, ‘The People’ or ‘Children of the Holy People’.

Nurse Tayler fills a gap at the Navajo Nation Reservation

Featuring: Nurse Tayler Oakes at the Navajo Nation Reservation

Nurse Tayler is a Traveling Nurse. According to, a Traveling Nurse is a ‘registered nurse who works in short-term roles at hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities around the world and fills gaps in areas where there are nursing shortages. Moreover, Nurse Tayler was sent to the Navajo Nation Reservation by Covid Care Force (a Non-Governmental Organization NGO) to engage in Contact Tracing for the Coronavirus; however, these past few months she has also taken on several hospital shifts, because there was a great need for nursing staff within the Navajo Nation Hospitals

Nurse Tayler has been working at the Navajo Nation Reservation from the very beginning of the pandemic, in which she has yet to see any positive change occur for the Dine

“There still isn’t any work at the Reservation. 

The Navajo people have to work outside of the Reservation – so when the surrounding communities are not taking the pandemic seriously – it affects them.

They then go home to their multigenerational households, 9 – 10 family members living under one roof, including 92 – year – old Great Grandma.”

– Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse

Multi-generational households are very common within the Navajo Nation Reservation – it’s a part of their culture – to preserve their history and heritage. And because there are so many people who live under one roof, it makes it nearly impossible to social distance in order to keep all family members safe. Because of this, it has caused the Covid cases to surge at the Reservation. Nurse Tayler said, things have not gotten any better since the last time we talked – four months ago.

Navajo Native American life on a reservation in Arizona

Photo credit: ©Stock image – 1745734673 – by DCSHUTT

“Unfortunately, things have gotten much worse.

The case load has increased significantly, so we are way busier than we were back in August. 

Our case load – for the past five days – has beaten our record of new cases consistently – everyday – for the last five days. 

I think last week, the Navajo Nation had 900 new cases.” 

– Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse

Nurse Tayler said, in spite of the Daily New Cases, the death toll has not gone down at all. Additionally, she said, there is not any new treatments readily available in order to prevent further deaths. 

“All of the medical knowledge they have come up with, all of these new discoveries of great drugs – it doesn’t really mean a lot if the drugs are not accessible. 

And it really doesn’t mean anything if there is no rooms available in the hospitals in order to treat the patients – which, we are running into a lack of resources here, so it only goes so far.” 

-Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse

As hospital beds fill up, and rooms become unavailable for patients who are needing treatment, Nurse Tayler said, ‘hospital beds are becoming a scarce resource nowadays’. 

“Honestly, a nurse takes care of more patients than they are suppose to. ICU goes beyond their limits. Hospitals go beyond their limits. And that’s what’s happening.

Hospitals across the country have put out statements that they are soon going to have to start turning patients away – which is really scary.

I mean this is America – in 2020 – and to think about the concept of hospitals turning patients away is insane, but I do think we are heading towards that point.”

– Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse

One of the biggest resources that the Navajo Nation is struggling with is a lack of resources for the communities. Nurse Tayler said, ‘I personally tried to get food for a patient today and then was told, ‘we are out, we don’t have any, sorry’ – so that’s an issue’. She also said, it has been nearly impossible to keep up with Contact Tracing.

“At our height over the summer, we had about 20ish cases coming in a day – but now, on Friday, we had about 67 cases that day. So we are constantly adding 40–50 cases a day and it’s nearly impossible to Contact Trace for that many people.”

-Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse 

Nurse Tayler said, her team – Public Health Nursing – has expanded greatly, because it is now at a point of ‘all hands on deck’. Many Health Care Workers – from Nutrition, Pharmacy, and Physical Therapy are assisting in Contact Tracing. However, Nurse Tayler said, this doesn’t seem to be enough to keep up with Contact Tracing. 

“We’re kind of like the violin players on the Titanic – it’s going down, but we just keep playing.”

-Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse

Video featured below: Nurse Tayler shares more with me about what has been going on since we talked four months ago, why they are still continuing to experience high numbers of the Coronavirus, Contact Tracing, and more about her and her Nursing team. Interview conducted on December 1, 2020. Duration 9:10.

Featured photo above: Lower Antelope Canyon at the Navajo Nation, Arizona.                                               Photo Credit: ©Stock image – 789576565 – by Stephen Moehle

Nurse Tayler shares more: ‘Aid Presence in America’, ‘how she and her co-workers are dealing with their mental health amid pandemic’, and ‘how her family feels about her working in the Covid crisis’

Featuring: Nurse Tayler

According to the World Health Organization, the United States has surpassed 15 million Coronavirus cases, with over 243,000 new cases (updated December 13, 2020). As the pandemic continues to spiral out of control in the US, Nurse Tayler said, ‘there have been many Aid Organisations who have arrived on American soil in order to assist hospitals who are in need of help’.  

“When I got here in July, Doctors Without Borders – which is the most prestigious medical NGO in the world – they were here on the ground, which they’ve never deployed within the United States before this. 

I came here with Covid Care Force, so they still have a very big presence on the ground. Project Hope is another NGO that I have deployed to hurricanes before this, they also have a presence on the ground. 

So yes, there is definitely a big Aid presence on the ground, which I think is just mind boggling – to think – ‘I am in America, seeing the problems that I am seeing, and working side-by-side with with these Aid organisations. 

The last time I worked side-by-side with Doctors Without Borders was at a Refugee Camp in Greece, and now I’m doing it here – in rural Arizona. It’s just insane to me that this is really happening in America.” 

-Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse

As you may imagine, Nurse Tayler – who is constantly working with Covid patients who are suffering and dying from the Coronavirus – she has been struggling with her mental health; however, she has been able to get assistance through Emotional PPE – which offers FREE Mental Health Services to Health Care workers who are serving on the Frontlines during the Pandemic.

Featuring: Tayler Oakes – Covid Care Force Nurse

“I was at the point … GO-GO-GO. 

Just numb. 

You’re kind of set to thinking in disaster mode – ‘I have to do this’, running on adrenaline all the time – but then, after 6 months, the adrenaline starts to wear off, and you just get kind of tired of seeing death and suffering. 

It’s especially hard to deal with when you know, ‘there are so many things that can be done to prevent all that you are seeing and it’s just not happening.'”

-Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse 

As Nurse Tayler continues to work on the Frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic, her family –  back in Tennessee – worry about her.

“It’s been a really hard year on my mom, because I spent most of this year in Covid, and then my mom actually had it.

So, I had to deal with that – but then, we lost two family members to Covid. So yeah, it’s impacted me on a personal level. 

And then to come to work to help other people mourn over the phone as their parents are dying or their loved ones dying – Covid is just a really awful thing.”

-Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse

Video featured below: Nurse Tayler shares with me about other Aid organisations who are assisting with the pandemic in the United States, how she has been able to keep her Mental Health in check, and how her family has been feeling about her working in the environment she has been in. Interview conducted on December 1, 2020. Duration 6:47.

Above image: Community health care workers, frontline medical group, and patients illustrating teamwork as a group of doctors and nurses joining together as physicians unified for a patient care. Photo credit: ©Stock image – 1726021492 – by Lightspring

Nurse Tayler is hopeful about the future: ‘New President’ and ‘Covid Vaccine’

Democratic nominee Joe Biden made an abbreviated campaign visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Friday, hours after he tested negative for the coronavirus in two separate tests. September 21,2020.

Photo credit: ©Stock image – 1834033945.

As a New Administrationthe Biden Administration – is set to take office on January 20, 2021, I asked Nurse Tayler if she believes things might get better with a New Administration coming in. Nurse Tayler said, ‘she does believe things will get better once the Biden Administration takes over’. 

“The previous Administration didn’t really have a response, and their handling of it was – TO NOT. And I think the fact that the New Administration has a Covid Task Force, which is composed of Scientists, Immunologist, Infectious Disease Doctors, and nothing else – I think that alone is reassuring. 

So, I am very hopeful about this Administration; however, inauguration isn’t for another month and things are only getting SIGNIFICANTLY worse by the day.  

And it’s not just that things are getting worse, it’s the rate at which things are getting worse, which – I think – is really scary.”

-Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse

At a news conference on December 8, 2020, President-elect Joe Biden said, during his first 100 days in office he will ‘urge Americans to wear face masks‘ and will implement ‘a mask mandate by signing an executive order, which requires Americans to wear a mask in federal buildings and during interstate travel on planes, trains, and buses‘. 

Along with the mask mandate, President-elect Joe Biden vows ‘to distribute 100m vaccines within his first 100 days in office‘ in his efforts to lead the country through the pandemic successfully. Nurse Tayler said she believes ‘not only having a new President in office could be a game changer for the Coronavirus pandemic’, but so can the vaccines, which are currently being rolled out.

The CDC (US Center for Disease Control Prevention) approved the Pfizer vaccine for American usage on December 13, 2020 and will begin distributing as early as Monday – December 14, 2020.

“This is the next step in our efforts to protect Americans, reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and help restore some normalcy to our lives and our country.”

-Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director

Photo credit: ©Stock image

Nurse Tayler said, she is ‘excited about the vaccine developments’ and ‘is planning on getting the vaccine as soon as it is available to her.

“I research it throughly – obsessively – even on my own free time.

I one-thousand percent believe that it is safe. I will be getting it as soon as its available. 

I have recommended it to everyone that I love, that I want them to get it as soon as its available, and I would recommend it to anyone else as well.” 

-Tayler Oakes, Covid Care Force Nurse 

Video featured below: Nurse Tayler shares her thoughts with me on the in-coming Biden Administration, the Vaccine(s), and what everyone should  expect moving forward. Interview conducted on December 1, 2020. Duration 11:14.

Featured photo above: WE WILL WIN on coronavirus, covid-19 outbreak around the world. body health care. medical equipment. demand and supply. hope and solution. big change situation, protect yourself with mask. Photo credit: ©Stock image – 1687568470 – by HAKINMHAN

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