Thursday, June 1, 2023

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Senior shopping hours are back as cases near 2,000


There is a total of 1,977 positive COVID-19 cases and 62 deaths for the Navajo Nation as of Wednesday.

This represents an increase of 104 cases over Tuesday, the same number of new cases that occurred the previous day and nearly double the number on Sunday, when the curve appeared to be flattening.

These numbers include 920 males, 1,057 females, and an average age of 46. The total number of deaths is 62, which includes 41 males, 21 females, and an average age of 65 years old. A total of 11,404 COVID-19 tests have been administered with 8,239 negative test results.

To continue to try to mitigate the COVID-19 spread on the Navajo Nation the Division of Economic Development will have its first-of-the-month elderly hours Friday.  JT Willie, Division of Economic Development Director, said all Bashas’ Supermarkets throughout Navajo will allow only shoppers over 60 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on May 1.

“We are going to be allowing a time frame for our elderly … to do their shopping,” said Willie. “We are trying to keep everybody local.  Our goal is to help reduce travel and the spread of the virus.”

Navajo Shopping Centers Inc. will also be involved, and will be handing out hand sanitizers and home-made facemasks to senior shoppers. 

This weekend will also see another 57-hour weekend curfew beginning on Friday, May 1 at 8 p.m. until Monday, May 4 at 5 a.m., which will be enforced by the Navajo Police Department’s road checkpoints in communities across the Navajo Nation.

“With first of the month and the 57-hour weekend curfew approaching, please send only one family member to shop for groceries and please leave your children at home,” stated President Jonathan Nez. “We are literally in a fight to save lives, so we need everyone to do their part and hold each other accountable.”

During the Health, Education and Human Services committee meeting Tuesday a report given by Battered Families Services, Inc., Amá dóó Ałchiní Bighan, Inc. (ADABI), Roberta’s Place Inc. and the Tohdinasshai Committee Against Family Abuse with support from the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women reported a sharp increase in domestic violence calls relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the Navajo Nation.

“With this pandemic, we have loss of jobs, which is a major financial setback for families,” stated ADABI Executive Director Lorena Halwood. “I would call it intimate terrorism, now, in the homes of victims.”

With the confinement of Navajo people and the overall decrease of living space, Halwood shared, the rates of domestic abuse and domestic violence are increasing in Navajo households. 

“Domestic violence, locally, is absolutely increasing with being sheltered-in-place with their abusers,” stated Jessica Cooper, representing Roberta’s Place in Grants, New Mexico. “Shelter staff are seeing a huge increase in crisis calls and the need for the ability to have a place to go. With COVID-19, it’s very difficult.”

Since the beginning of the Navajo Nation COVID-19 state of emergency, shelters have been classified as essential businesses that are allowed to stay open to serve members of the public, stated Emily Ellison of Battered Family Services in Gallup.

Ellison explained that each program in the coalition is a sub-recipient of Navajo Nation contracts awarded by the federal government. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the shelters and services are experiencing financial difficulties impacting the services they can deliver.

At the same time, their checks from the Navajo Nation are nearly a year late.

“It’s almost a systematic failure, the system is failing the folks that are eligible for the funding that are applying for funding,” stated Committee Chairman Daniel Tso. “Yes, the system has to be changed, and how can this committee affect that change that can better serve the Navajo People?”

About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reported 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.


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