Mark Ruffalo, Ellen DeGeneres call attention to medical needs on Navajo Nation

GALLUP — Celebrities like Mark Ruffalo, Marisa Tomei and Ellen DeGeneres are appearing in a campaign to bring attention to the need for personal protective equipment, supplies and medical volunteers for health care facilities on the Navajo Nation.

The actors and television host appear in a public service announcement that spotlights the need as the tribe continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus, which has resulted in more than 2,600 positive cases for COVID-19 and 85 deaths.

Protect the Sacred co-creator Allie Young was inspired to create the online video after talking with friends about challenges and conditions they face while working at Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock.

“It’s very hard for them to see day to day what’s happening on the ground. I’ve seen them get emotional,” Young said.

“It’s me worrying about them and wanting to help in any way that I can. If this video can increase the numbers of volunteers coming in, then I’ll be very happy,” she said later.

The Protect the Sacred website has information for donating medical supplies to the tribe and for health care providers to volunteer. The video is available there and under “Dear America | #NavajoStrong” on YouTube.

While the video draws attention to the critical need, the celebrities — along with Young, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and other Diné — inform viewers that the slow response by the federal government to address the outbreak is part of decades of broken promises to tribal nations.

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