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New variant a concern, Nez considering opening tribal parks


The Delta variant that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes as a “variant of concern” has not been reported on Navajo Nation, but there has been about 83 cases of the other variants found on Navajo.

The Nation continues to experience low COVID-19 case numbers. On Thursday, Navajo Nation health officials reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 30,948 on the Nation.

One death was reported and the total is 1,343 people who have died due to the virus.

The total number of deaths remains 1,340, and reports indicate that 29,549 individuals have recovered from COVID-19. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 30,932.

But even with these numbers, President Jonathan Nez said he is concerned about the Delta variant, which is considered to be more contagious than other variants.

The concern with health care professionals lies with unvaccinated people and they suggest people get vaccinated if they haven’t.

So far, the total doses of vaccines distributed on Navajo is 249,605; total doses administered is 237,852; number of fully vaccinated people is 113,645.

With the Navajo Nation Council resolution to open tribal parks being considered by Nez, he said they are still looking at the resolution but stated he is worried that they don’t know exactly where visitors and tourist are coming from when they enter Navajo.

“Now everybody wants to come to the Navajo Nation,” said Nez. “They want to reopen the parks and we are still looking at the legislation. But we don’t know where these visitors are coming from, right?

“We aren’t going to be asking them for their vaccination card or asking them if they’re fully vaccinated,” he said. “We don’t know.”

The Navajo Nation has been teetering between the yellow and green phases, but currently is at yellow and this continues to keep roads closed to tourist and visitors, as well as the closure of tribal parks.

“Some National Parks throughout the country right now are seeing an overwhelming population of people going there,” said Nez. “It’s overflowing. That’s probably going to happen here … not just tribal parks, but your local gas stations, supermarkets.”

Nez emphasized that customers must continue to wear masks inside businesses on the Navajo Nartion, where the mask mandate is still in place.

“I’m telling businesses you have to tell your visitors they have to wear masks,” he said. “We shouldn’t be letting them in.

“If they give you an issue, tell them we are a sovereign Nation,” he said. “If they don’t like it, have a nice day. The road leaves the Navajo Nation.”

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 Follow her on Twitter at @abecenti


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