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Nation logs record-breaking 351 new COVID cases

Graphic courtesy of CDC
This illustration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

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The Navajo Nation reported a record high of 351 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours Friday night.

The total number of deaths is now 623. Reports indicate that 8,045 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 146,196 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 14,441, including five delayed reported cases.

“This is not only devastating, but it indicates that the uncontrolled spread of the virus is impacting all communities on the Navajo Nation and in nearby border towns and cities,” stated Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “It is time for a mask mandate for the entire state of Arizona – the growing numbers of cases outside of the Navajo Nation is having a devastating impact on our people and it’s evident with 4,471 new cases reported in Arizona. This is happening all across the country, and we have always told our people that the safest place to be is at home here on the Navajo Nation. We have cautioned our people every single day. Everyone has to hold themselves accountable.”

Dr. Jill Jim, director for Navajo Department of Health, had warned the Navajo Nation that this second wave the Navajo Nation is experiencing could very well be worse than the first wave and could break records. The first wave hit 238 cases on May 13.

“Our numbers are at its peak here and we will probably begin breaking records pretty soon,” said Jill Jim, director of Navajo Department of Health, in a recent statement. “The pandemic is everywhere on the Navajo Nation. You might think it’s just one area but really it’s everyone across the Navajo Nation.”

Again, Jim said through contact tracing it was found that the increase in numbers is largely due to family gatherings. She said the only mitigation that can be relied upon is sheltering in place.

It was warned that the increase would lead to uncontrolled spread within communities, and this has become the reality. As of Tuesday a new listing of 55 communities currently experiencing uncontrolled spread — half the Navajo Nation’s 110 chapters — was published by the Navajo Department of Health.

The communities are: Alamo; Bread Springs; Baca/Prewitt; Bird Springs; Bodaway/Gap; Cameron; Casamero Lake; Chichiltah; Chilchinbeto; Chinle; Churchrock; Counselor; Coyote Canyon; Crownpoint; Dilkon; Forest Lake; Fort Defiance; Gadiiahi; Ganado; Hogback; Houck; Indian Wells; Iyanbito; Kaibeto; Kayenta; Leupp; Lupton; Many Farms; Mariano Lake; Nahata Dziil; Nahodishgish; Naschitti; Pinedale; Piñon; Pueblo Pintado; Rock Point; Rock Springs; Round Rock; Sanostee; Sheepsprings; Shiprock; Smith Lake; St. Michaels; Teec Nos Pos; Thoreau; Tohajiilee; Tohatchi; Tonalea; Tsayatoh; Tselani/Cottonwood; Tuba City; Twin Lakes; Upper Fruitland; Whippoorwill and White Cone.

Nahata Dziil Community Governance President Darrell Tso succumbed to the disease this week.

On Friday, the state of New Mexico reported 2,993 new cases of COVID-19, the state of Arizona reported 4,471 new cases, and Utah reported a record-high 4,588 new cases. With Thanksgiving approaching the Center for Disease Control has warned against any travelling during the holiday. 

The Navajo Nation’s three-week stay-at-home lockdown is in effect 24-hours a day, seven days a week with the exception of essential workers, cases of emergencies, and to purchase essential items such as food and medication when essential businesses are open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. The Navajo Police Department will increase its enforcement of the lockdown and will patrol roadways and communities to help ensure compliance.

All essential businesses are required to ensure employees and customers wear masks, practice social distancing, disinfect high-touch surfaces, provide access to hand wash stations, sanitizers and gloves, and limit the number of customers in any enclosed areas.


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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