Tuesday, November 24, 2020
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Hopi villages closed due to COVID-19

CHINLE

Two Hopi villages have been closed to all non-residents after a resident of Bacavi tested positive for the novel coronavirus Friday.

Executive order notices from the tribal president’s office were posted in public places and on Facebook advising people to shelter in place.

“Only family members that are essential to the continuity of the health and welfare of the village are allowed to leaving (sic) the village,” the Bacavi order states. It adds construction must cease and the village will not accept FEDEX or UPS orders.

The adjacent village of Hotevilla is under a similar order. A resident said the village’s small grocery store, the only food store in either Hotevilla or Bacavi, is having people phone in their orders for curbside pickup.

According to a press release from the Hopi chairman’s office, seven people had tested positive at the Hopi Health Care Center as of last Thursday. The only case that is known to be a resident of the reservation is the Bacavi case. Out of 39 tests given at the center, 21 people tested negative and 11 tests were still pending. The Indian Health Service is not releasing tribal affiliation or any other demographics on the confirmed cases.

Hotevilla village member Rosanda Suetopka-Thayer said she believes there might be many more cases popping up in the near future because the winter dance cycle ended in mid-March, after the virus had already arrived in Arizona.

Although all Hopis are encouraged to participate in their village ceremonial life, Suetopka-Thayer said she stayed away from the last winter dance in her village because she was afraid of catching the virus.

“I felt the kiva was the perfect breeding ground for germs, like a Hopi Petri dish, because it’s warmed by a wood and coal fire and everyone is sitting shoulder-to-shoulder for like six or seven hours,” she said.

Fortunately, she said, the ceremonial cycle won’t start up again until this summer.

The reservation has been closed to tourists and all non-residents.


About The Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at cyurth@navajotimes.com.

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