COVID comes to Cameron
NA’NÍ’Á HASÁNÍ AND TÓNANEESDIZÍ, Ariz. – Cameron Chapter on Sunday night announced confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the small tight-knit community near the Little Colorado River.
“We do have cases of coronavirus in our community,” said Milton Tso, president of the chapter. “So, with that being said, I’m asking our small community here to please wash your hands and follow President Jonathan Nez’s instructions and stay six feet away from each other.
“And hopefully our stores here will help us (with) getting things –– not allowing tourists in, maybe even shutting down.”
Aurelia Yazzie, community relations officer at Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation, on Sunday night said she does not have the current number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus as she’s working with the hospital epidemiology team to find out. President Jonathan Nez announced three new cases Monday morning, but did not say where the patients are.
Because communities around the country are grappling with a range of emotions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Tso said he does not want the Cameron community of about 1,300 to panic.
“Please, that’s one thing I don’t want anybody to do, panic,” he said Sunday night. “One thing I don’t want to do is going around blaming people. It’s just something we have to deal with together as a community and just follow the protocols that have been given to us and the steps that we need to take.”
Navajo Nation officials on Friday night ordered Diné residents to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Leaving home is allowed for certain jobs, food shopping and other essential activity.
“And if you do, wash your hands before you leave. Wash your hands when you’re there and wash your hands when you get back,” said Tso, who’s asking for prayers for those affected by COVID-19. “It’s all about washing your hands and staying home.
“We’re all family here in this small community and everybody knows each other. And it’s unfortunate that it came to us. So, please send out your prayers and keep calm and we will beat this all together.”
In Tuba City, chapter officials also announced Saturday night one positive case of COVID-19 in the community.
“The Tónaneesdizí Local Government has been informed of an individual in our part of Western (Navajo) who has tested positive for the COVID-19,” said Gerald Keetso, president of Tónaneesdizí Chapter, who issued a communitywide shelter-in-place order to combat the coronavirus continuing to spread across Arizona.
Keetso’s order allows for Tónaneesdizí residents to leave their homes for getting necessary items like medicine and groceries, certain jobs that maintain continuity of operations, performing tasks essential to health and safety of family and relatives, and visiting health care professionals for imminent health need.
“When people need to leave home to obtain such necessities, they should do so in limited numbers and should at all times adhere to social distancing,” said Keetso, who also ordered the community to cease all activities, with the exception of grocery stores, food banks, gas/convenience stores, hardware stores, banks and related financial institutions, education institutions, the transfer station, restaurants offering take-out, home-based care, and professional services.
“We are requiring the public not to engage in holding any type of gatherings whether it be birthday parties, church gatherings, sweats,” Keetso said, adding in Diné Bizaad that the coronavirus has impacted Diné Bikéyah, presenting an unprecedented challenge.
“The reason for all of this is Naałniih, COVID-19, which we thought would never come. But it’s here, among us. So, be aware and don’t meet in gatherings. Wash your hands. Stay home, my people. This is the only way we can flatten the curve.”