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Number of cases now at 354, 14 deaths

WINDOW ROCK

The total number of positive tests for COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation is 354 as of Sunday – an increase of 33 cases since Saturday.

The Navajo Nation Department of Health and Navajo Area Indian Health Service, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center, also report a total of 14 confirmed deaths.

In Arizona counties, Navajo County has 149 cases; Apache, 33; and Coconino, 94.

In New Mexico, McKinley County has 17; San Juan, 45; Cibola, 7; and Socorro, 2.

In Utah, San Juan County has 7 cases.

In brighter news, the Arizona National Guard Saturday delivered a shipment of much-needed personal protective equipment to Chinle, where it will be sorted and distributed to Navajo health care facilities.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, meanwhile, is assessing possible sites in Chinle and Kayenta to isolate COVID-19 patients with less severe symptoms from the general public, according to a press release from the president’s office.

Confirmed cases continue to increase quickly on Navajo even though public education, efforts to raise awareness and pleading by Navajo leaders continues asking everyone to stay home and practice social distancing.

“This is a matter of life and death, especially for those who have underlying health issues,” said President Jonathan Nez. “Before you consider going out for any reason, think of the well-being of your elders and your children. Be mindful that the numbers we are seeing are two to three days old due to the delay in test results for COVID-19.”

This weekend a police presence will be prevalent in order to enforce Navajo Nation public emergency orders such as the 8-p.m.-to-5-a.m curfew, to stay at home, no mass gatherings and no outside visitors or tourists.

Navajo Police Chief Phillip Francisco said police will start handing out citations to anyone not abiding by the orders.

Nez has said repeatedly first responders, health care providers and police officers are getting to the point of being “burnt out” because of the upsurge of coronavirus cases and people ignoring the orders.

On March 20, the Navajo Nation Council passed an emergency bill along with others in a consent agenda, meaning there was no debate, which places a temporary restriction on tourists and visitors to the Navajo Nation. Nez signed the bill the same day.

The resolution states the ban does not apply to essential commerce and business services including the delivery of food products, medicine, hardware supplies and household consumer products.

The ban also does not apply to medical providers and public safety and first responders, who are the essential personnel fighting at the front lines.

Saturday’s high numbers are at least two to three days old because it takes two-to-four days for test results to return.

“We hope to get the ability to do rapid testing,” said Navajo Area Indian Health Service Director Roselyn Tso. “What this means is we will get results faster turn around time, as well as being able to test more people as they are presenting more to our facilities.”

But the simplest solution to slow down the numbers is for people to stay home, practice social distancing and wash their hands.

“We are putting our people in danger by not listening to what our leadership is telling us,” said Health, Education and Human Services Committee member Edison Wauneka. “If we can comply with what we are being told … that’s going to be the biggest contribution we can make to what we are fighting today.


About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council and Office of the President and Vice President. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com. Follow her on Twitter at @abecenti

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