NDOH: Mask mandate still in effect on Navajo

WINDOW ROCK

Even if you are fully vaccinated, don’t throw your masks out just yet, because the mask mandate that was implemented in April of 2020 to protect everyone from the spread of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation is still in effect, per a May 18 health advisory by the Navajo Department of Health and the COVID-19 Health Command Operations Center.

“The use of masks in public on the Navajo Nation is still required,” states the NDOH press release.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control announced that fully vaccinated persons can now go maskless, but the announcement caught many by surprise and left a wake confusion, because the guidance does not lift local ordinances and state and local governments, and businesses have been struggling to gauge whether lifting mask mandates is premature, or not.

However, the Navajo Nation is firm in its stance on the side of caution.

“Although the guidance from the CDC Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People states that individuals fully vaccinated no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance, we are not in concurrence with these updated guidelines,” states NDOH.

Per existing Public Health Emergency order 2021-007, individuals fully and partially vaccinated or those unvaccinated must continue to wear a mask in public on the Navajo Nation — that means everyone.

“Several states have lifted even more restrictions that helped to prevent more spread of COVID-19, but we are keeping the mask mandate and social distancing protocols in place on the Navajo Nation,” President Jonathan Nez said on Monday.

The health advisory also states that vaccinated people should continue to wear masks because “some of our family and community members are at high risk of getting very sick with the virus.”

The NDOH also advised continuing to socially distance (stay six feet away from others) and wash your hands frequently or use sanitizer.

As of Tuesday, May 18, the total number of deaths from COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation was 1,295 with 18 new cases reported.

Since the beginning of the pandemic 270,706 COVID-19 tests have been administered on the Navajo Nation with 30,740 positive COVID-19 cases and 29,353 recoveries.

Information: www.ndoh.navajo-nsn.gov or 928-871-7014.


About The Author

Rima Krisst

Reporter and photojournalist Rima Krisst has been with the Navajo Times since July of 2018, and covers our Arts and Culture and Government Affairs beats. Prior to joining the editorial team at the Times, Krisst worked in various capacities in the areas of communications, public relations, marketing and Indian Affairs policy on behalf of the Tribes, Nations and Pueblos of New Mexico. Among her posts, she served as Director of PR and Communications for the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department under Governor Bill Richardson, Healthcare Outreach and Education Manager for the Eight Northern Pueblos, Tribal Tourism Liaison for the City of Santa Fe, and Marketing Projects Coordinator for Santa Fe Indian Market. As a writer and photographer, she has also worked independently as a contractor on many special projects, and her work has been published in magazines. Krisst earned her B.S. in Business Administration/Finance from the University of Connecticut.

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