LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico university recently presented its findings, modeling the spread of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation at the Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Conference. New Mexico Highlands University used artificial intelligence and computer algorithms to dissect the data.
Researchers say despite rapid spread early on, after the Nation put strict lockdowns in place the spread was slowed. They say this shows there is a direct connection between following the health order and saving lives.
According to the university, another significant finding was that the language barrier on the Navajo Nation resulted in misconceptions about the coronavirus. NMHU reports that the National Science Foundation awarded Highlands a “rapid response” grant of $187,094 grant in May 2020 to study COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation.
Gil Gallegos, chair of the Computer and Mathematical Sciences Department at Highlands led researchers team that searched public data on COVID-19 from the New Mexico Department of Health and the Navajo Nation. Five Highland computer science graduate students were also involved in the research as well as a St. Mary’s College student.