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Gov’t offices closed, stay-at-home order reinstated

Navajo Times | File

 

WINDOW ROCK

With the Navajo Nation experiencing its second wave of COVID-19 while the rest of the country is experiencing its third, more public health orders will be implemented starting Monday and this includes Navajo government shutdowns. 

For the next three weeks the stay-at-home order has been reinstated, executive branch government offices will be closed with the exception of essential employees, all schools on the Navajo Nation are asked to close temporarily, and “red status” has been declared for all businesses, requiring new safety measures as COVID-19 cases continue to rise rapidly.

On Friday, 97 new COVID-19 positive cases were reported for the Navajo Nation and two more deaths for a total of 598. Reports indicate that 7,910 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 136,897 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 13,069, including one delayed unreported case.

“With nearly 900 new cases of COVID-19 reported on the Navajo Nation in the last week and with surging cases across the country, we have to implement these public health measures to protect our Navajo people and reduce the spread of this virus,” stated Navajo President Jonathan Nez. “We are inching closer and closer to a major public health crisis in which we could potentially see our hospitals filling up with patients. Our health care system on the Navajo Nation cannot sustain a long-term surge in COVID-19 cases. The safest place to be is at home here on the Navajo Nation.” 

On Wednesday the Navajo Department of Health issued a Health Advisory Notice to warn residents of 34 communities of the “uncontrolled spread” of COVID-19. The communities are: Alamo; Baca/Prewitt; Bodaway/Gap; Breadsprings; Cameron; Chilchiltah; Chinle; Churchrock; Crownpoint; Indian Wells; Kayenta; Lake Valley; Littlewater; Mariano Lake; Nahodishgish; Naschitti; Nazlini; Pinedale; Pinon; Rock Point; Rock Springs; Round Rock; Sheepsprings; Shiprock; Smith Lake; Thoreau; Tohajiilee; Tohatchi; Tolani Lake; Tonalea; Torreon; Tsayatoh; Tuba City; White Horse Lake.

“We are reaching the highest peak where we were at in May,” said Jill Jim, director for Navajo Department of Health during a Nov. 10 live virtual town hall. “A lot of the cases have been related to gatherings and travelling of the Navajo Nation. Right now with the inability to keep track of all these cases, the contact tracers have a lot of work ahead of them. It’s going to become unmanageable at some point because it’s going to be infecting everyone.”

Jim encouraged everyone to get their flu shots, and said everyone should be able to visit their health care facilities and get tested for COVID-19 without rejection.

“Individuals that are testing for COVID-19 are in the middle age group starting from 20 to 59 … a wide range who are testing positive,” said Jim. “But the (people) who are highly impacted by not surviving COVID-19 are those between 60 to 69, all the way to 80.”

Not only are young adults to middle age adults more prone to pass the disease onto elders, who have a far greater chance of being killed by the virus, but also a person that lives off the Navajo Nation has a far greater chance of contracting COVID-19, said Jim.

“If you are in the border town and go home on a regular basis that’s a way the disease can be transmitted,” warned Jim. “We have our very oldest elders passing away from COVID in the border town area.”


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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