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Number of cases continue to rise, Nez underlines curfew


As of Sunday, the number of positive cases of coronavirus on the Navajo Nation has reached 128.

And starting today, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., a curfew will be enforced for the entire Navajo Nation.

A stern sounding President Jonathan Nez said during a town hall live on Facebook Sunday afternoon, “We have passed the 100 mark. We are going to begin to be more strict in these coming weeks.”

Public health emergency orders are in effect to limit mass gatherings and for everyone to stay home. Another order isolated Chilchinbeto, Arizona, as a hot zone for the virus.

“Young people, I see many of you driving through out the Navajo Nation,” said Nez. “Some of us don’t know we have the virus.

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“Don’t be selfish,” Nez said. “Think of your grandmas. Think of those people that have health conditions. Those are the vulnerable population that could be really effected in a really bad way. We have deaths on the Navajo Nation because of this spread of the coronavirus.”

The curfew order includes rules for businesses and other offices to follow, such as requiring attendants at gas stations, curbside service for restaurants, and a limit of 10 people in grocery stores and other businesses.

Nez said they are looking at what they may need to do long term, including using facilities like hotels, gyms, jails and campgrounds as isolation sites for positive cases.

Nez warned that health care providers and resources on the Navajo Nation can’t meet the needs of the influx of positive cases. Roselyn Tso, director of the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, said, “This social distancing and staying home is key.”

Tso noted a patient surge plan in anticipation of what they’ve seen so far and what they need to do to prepare, from the need for personal protective equipment for all of the front line staff to quarantine sites to other sites for patients to recover.

The new curfew includes guidelines for businesses:

  • Restaurants must provide an outdoor order station and/or a way for people to call ahead and for customers to remain in their vehicles for pick-up.
  • Gas stations must either a fueling attendant so customers can stay in their vehicles, or provide disinfectant wipes or sprays for customer use.
  • Banks must provide drive-through services only. ATMs can be used as long as disinfectant wipes or sprays are available for customer use.
  • Grocery stores, food banks, convenience stores and hardware stores are required to limit the number of customers in the store to no more than 10 at a time. They must ensure the required 6-feet social distancing is followed.
  • Post offices are not required to provide curb-side or drive-through service although disinfectant wipes or sprays should be made available.
  • Laundromats shall limit customers to 2 per household and no more than 10 persons at any given time, and shall make disinfectant wipes or sprays available for customer use.
  • All other essential businesses not specifically addressed in this section shall post a notice with a contact number to receive service during business hours, and also provide contact information on their company website, if any. The purpose of this requirement is to limit in-person customer contact to the greatest extent possible, while still allowing customers to receive services.

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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