No new 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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For the first time since the beginning of March the Navajo Nation has no new reported COVID-19 cases.

Sadly, there are a reported 527 deaths, including four new ones today (Wednesday). The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 9,903, which includes two previously unreported positive cases from July, and of these 7,157 people are reported to have recovered.

The first two cases the Navajo Nation reported were on March 17, and from then on the numbers soured rapidly.

During the six months of trying to decrease the case numbers the Navajo Nation implemented strict health mandates such as mask wearing, stay-at-home orders, 57-hour weekend lockdowns (now reduced to 32 hours), government and business closures, as well as school closures.  Most of these are still in effect today.

To this day there have been 97,644 COVID-19 tests administered throughout the Navajo Nation. The importance of testing for COVID-19 was emphasized from the very beginning. Testing blitzes were held throughout the Navajo Nation.

But even with zero new cases President Jonathan Nez continued his message of continuing to be abide by the public health orders, especially since there is still no sign of a vaccine for the coronavirus. This weekend will be another 32-hour lockdown.

“No new cases reported today is good news, but the reality is that our daily numbers will continue to fluctuate as long as there is no vaccine available,” stated Nez. “We have to remember that there is a Public Health Emergency Order in place that prohibits gatherings due to the threat of COVID-19.”

This is the breakdown of cases by service units: Chinle Service Unit: 2,340; Crownpoint Service Unit: 815; Ft. Defiance Service Unit: 938; Gallup Service Unit: 1,580; Kayenta Service Unit: 1,314; Shiprock Service Unit: 1,503; Tuba City Service Unit: 941; Winslow Service Unit: 466

Six residences with COVID-19 positive cases are not specific enough to place them accurately in a Service Unit.

In March the Navajo Area Indian Health Service gave a coronavirus surge projection stating the Navajo Nation would hit its peak in mid-May. This peak was met in April, a whole month ahead of time.

At the time of this news, Michael Weahkee, director of the IHS, said responses to the pandemic are locally executed, state and tribally managed and federally supported. He said for the Navajo Nation to get to this point of flattening the curve wouldn’t have been possible without strong leadership and the public health orders.

“I was pleased to see the data on not only the flattening, and we reached the curve and are on the downhill slope,” said Weahkee. “That’s attributable of the great actions of the Navajo Nation tribal citizens and the leadership of putting the public health order in place in the first place.”

When states and cities were opening early they began to see a rise in numbers again, even moreso in places where masks weren’t mandated, causing the Navajo Nation to continue on its strict path. For most of the summer the Navajo Nation was on 57-hour weekend lockdown for fear Navajos traveling to neighboring states and cities would bring the virus back to the Nation and increase the numbers.

On Tuesday, the state of Utah reported 326 new cases of COVID-19, the state of Arizona reported 81 new cases, and New Mexico reported 44.

“I am confident that we, the Navajo people, can minimize the impacts of the upcoming flu season by continuing to wear your masks, wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay home as much as possible, and avoid large crowds,” stated Nez.

 


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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