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Nez credits lockdowns, other measures with containing the virus

Special to the Times | Bazhnibah
Darnell, Loretta, Eli, Christine, and Timmy stand on their front porch wearing masks in Aneth, Utah, a desert town in the northern part of the Navajo Nation. President Jonathan Nez credits his executive orders, such as wearing masks in public, with the fact that the Navajo Nation continues to flatten its curve while two surrounding states are experiencing spikes.


This week has been the first full week that new daily cases did not surpass 100, but as the Navajo Nation sees a decline in COVID-19 cases the rest of Arizona, Utah and California are experiencing viruses surges.

The Navajo Nation has 6,894 recorded COVID-19 cases, of which  3,462 individuals have recovered, as well as having a reported 330 deaths. 

Here are the Navajo Nation COVID-19 positive cases by Service Unit: Chinle Service Unit: 1,796; Crownpoint Service Unit: 627; Ft. Defiance Service Unit: 414; Gallup Service Unit: 1,166; Kayenta Service Unit: 992; Shiprock Service Unit: 1,123; Tuba City Service Unit: 564; Winslow Service Unit: 204 and eight residences unspecified. 

On April 17, the Navajo Department of Health issued Public Health Emergency Order 2020-007, requiring all individuals on the Navajo Nation to wear protective masks in public to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

While the Navajo Nation continued with its strict mask-wearing, daily curfews, social distancing mandates, and 57-hour lockdowns the Nation saw its peak a month sooner than expected. But all around the Nation, except in New Mexico, they saw cities and states not requiring masks and opening too soon. Now the numbers are increasing and Arizona casinos that were opened will now be closing again. 

“Studies indicate wearing a mask can reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Nez. “You can look at Navajo Nation as a case study…that states might want to copy or emulate because we mandated our people to wear masks in public. Other places don’t…you can see correlation.”

As of Friday Arizona, which is considered a hot spot, reached 3,246 new cases making a total of 46, 689 and a reported 1,312 deaths. On Wednesday Gov. Doug Ducey allowed local governments to mandate use of facemasks in public to slow the spread. 

In Utah a total of 586 new confirmed cases was reported as of Friday, bringing the total of cases since the pandemic began to 16,425. Masks are being pushed but aren’t mandated. 

“All around us there is high cases of coronavirus,” said Nez. “The hot spot people were saying as on the Navajo Nation, it’s not anymore.”

“The Nation continues the 57-hour lockdown this weekend to help stop the spread of the coronavirus,” said Nez. “It’s troubling and disheartening to hear that so many positive cases have been reported in surrounding areas of the Navajo Nation. On the Navajo Nation, we have to stay the course and stay alert. We no longer have the highest number of cases per capita because we implemented proactive preventative measures, such as wearing face masks, washing our hands, and practicing social distancing.”

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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