May 11, 2020



FORT DEFIANCE, Ariz. – Ninety-nine Navajo Housing Authority (NHA) supervisors and essential staff received diagnostic testing for COVID-19 during the phase one testing event held recently on May 5 at the NHA Fort Defiance complex in Fort Defiance, Arizona from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM.


“The NHA staff did an excellent job,” said NHA CEO Frank Dayish. “This is the first step in bringing our employees back to work.”


The testing was made possible through a partnership between Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the College of Health Solutions. Through this partnership, ASU and its network of health professionals assisted in collecting COVID-19 test samples for phase one of NHA’s testing. The testing session also served as a training opportunity for NHA’s newly hired medical staff.


“This is one of the smoothest operations for a first-time crew,” said Decy Dervie, a nurse practitioner consultant. “They (NHA medical assistants) worked well together and on top of that were able to test a hundred people.”


NHA recently hired two medical assistants to assist in testing and health safety adjustments needed for staff to return back to work.


“To stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s critically important to test for the disease. Our team has worked hard to scale up our ability to both provide tests and analyze hundreds of samples daily,” said Dr. Joshua LaBaer, director of ASU’s Biodesign Institute and leader of the Biodesign Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics. “We’re honored to partner with the Navajo Housing Authority to provide this crucial service, as well as our continued support.”


The testing itself was a drive-thru system. Individuals were instructed to stay in their vehicle with windows rolled up until they reached the testing tent. The actual test procedure involved nasal swab samples gathered on site.  These samples are sent back to ASU’s Biodesign Institute, an FDA approved, clinical testing lab that can run up to 1,200 PCR-based COVID-19 diagnostic tests per day.


The reporting of completed results usually takes between 24-48 hours, with a single FHA contact identified to help notify staff on results, as well as state public health departments.


The NHA is expected to work in cooperation with APS and ASU to begin testing remaining staff (phase 2) in the coming weeks.



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