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Nation moves from orange to yellow status

WINDOW ROCK

Navajo Nation will be going from orange to yellow COVID-19 status starting Monday.

With case numbers seeing all-time lows, it was announced during Wednesday’s town hall that the Navajo Nation would loosen its restrictions slightly.

With yellow status it means indoor dining will open at 25% capacity; parks will reopen to Navajo Nation residents only; casinos will remain open for Navajo residents only; and businesses and churches can increase occupancy to 50%.

“We are taking baby step to reopen,” said President Jonathan Nez. “Everyone around the country knows how hard Navajo Nation was hit. Visitors I just ask for your patience and consideration. We are focusing on our Navajo citizens. We will reopen but we are doing this very slowly.”

With nine new cases reported on Tuesday the total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 30,380. Reports indicate that 16,515 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and for the past 10 days no new deaths have been reported. The total number of deaths is 1263.

As for vaccines, the Johnson and Johnson vaccines is still at a halt even after 4,000 Navajo citizens have received it. No one has reported any side effects.

There have been 246,465 doses distributed; 214,309 administered; and 93,813 people have received both doses.

So far the Navajo Nation has identified six cases of COVID-19 variants. One was the U.K. variant from last month and the infected elderly man has since recovered. He was fully vaccinated.
Currently, five cases of the California variant has been found in the Gallup, Chinle and Shiprock service units.

A case of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease, was also reported. It is spread by infected rodent droppings.

The first case of Hantavirus this year was confirmed in McKinley County.

The Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center, issued a Health Advisory Notice on Monday regarding it.

“It’s that time of year when we see exposure from Hantavirus,” said Cpt. Brian Johnson, acting deputy director for the Navajo Area IHS. “There are things you can do such as wear a mask, protective goggles, if you’re cleaning rodent droppings. Make sure you are disinfecting.”

Symptoms of Hantavirus can be similar to COVID-19 or the flu, and only a medical exam and laboratory tests can determine the difference.

There is no vaccine or cure for Hantavirus, but steps can be taken to reduce the risk of getting the disease:

  • Clean-up for mildly infested areas of rodent activity.
  • Open all doors and windows for 30 minutes before cleaning.
  • Do not stir up dust by vacuuming, sweeping, or any other means.
  • When rodent droppings or nests are found, spray them with a household disinfectant and allow them to soak for at least 15 minutes. Disinfectant solution can be made by mixing 1 cup of bleach with one gallon of water.
  • After disinfecting, wear rubber gloves and clean up the droppings with disposable materials such as paper towels, rags, or disposable mop heads.
  • Seal all materials, droppings, or nests in double plastic bags and dispose of them in the trash.
  • Prevent rodents from entering the home by plugging or sealing all holes and gaps to the outside greater than 1/4-inch in diameter.
  • Eliminate or reduce rodent shelter around the home by removing outdoor junk and clutter and moving woodpiles, lumber, hay bales, etc.
  • Do not make food readily available to rodents. Do not leave pet food in dishes.
  • Dispose of garbage in trash cans with tight-fitting lids.

Johnson also said since its allergy season, to be aware of allergy symptoms.

He noted on several occasions people thought they had allergies and when they were tested they were positive for COVID-19.

“If you don’t assume you’re dealing with allergies, the symptoms can somewhat consistent with covid,” said Johnson. “It’s always safest to get tested, it helps us understand where covid actively is in our population and helps us understand where it’s going.”


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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