New Mexico health officials have teamed with Native American cartoonist Ricardo Caté to increase awareness about the coronavirus pandemic as part of a new campaign.

One of the most prominent Native American cartoonists working today, Caté is known for using humor to bring attention to serious topics affecting tribal communities. His cartoon, Without Reservation, is published daily in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

The Behavioral Health Services Division of the state Human Services Department and the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department partnered to create the campaign. Officials say the goal is to use culturally relevant messaging on how tribal members can take precautions to protect their communities, families and elders.

“Laughter has always been a part of being Indian, and Native humor is culturally unique and at the heart of our resilience and survivability,” Caté said in a statement.

Public service announcements will air on Native American radio stations, and banners will be put up at water and food pickup stations and testing areas. Fliers also will be distributed at each pueblo, tribe or nation in New Mexico, and posts will be made on social media.

The latest statewide data shows Native Americans account for more than 54 percent of all positive cases. State health officials say tribal communities are particularly vulnerable because they have higher rates of diabetes, asthma, cancer and hypertension.

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