WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Navajo Nation will re-lock stay at home with tribal offices closing and demanding new closings and corporate safety measures due to an increase in Covid-19 Infections.
Tribal officials said the three-week lockdown across the southwest reserve will take effect on Monday. The 56-hour pre-ordered weekend curfew started on Friday night.
Much of the Navajo Nation was closed between March and August as the virus swept through the vast sanctuary covering parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
On Wednesday, the tribe’s health ministry warned residents of an “uncontrolled spread” of the virus in 34 communities in the reserve.
Officials said, on Saturday, that the reserve has 172 new cases and no deaths recently, bringing the total number during the epidemic to 13,249 cases with 598 deaths.
“With nearly 900 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Navajo Nation last week and with cases rising across the country, we have to implement these public health measures to protect our Navajo people and limit the spread of this virus.” President Jonathan Neese said in a statement.
With the new uncontrolled spread, Nez said, “We are getting closer and closer to a major public health crisis in which we can see our hospitals filling up with patients.”
He said the health care system in the reserve could not handle the prolonged increase in cases. “The safest place is home here on the Navajo Nation.”
Tribal officials have already urged residents to wear face masks, practice social distancing, and limit gatherings to less than five people.
Nez said the new executive order requires government offices and companies to be closed starting Monday and continuing through December 6, with the exception of essential employees. It also requires that all booked schools operate online.
The tribe’s statement said a separate new public health emergency order enforces the three-week lockdown order and restricts travel outside the reserve and personal gatherings.
“Individuals may not leave their place of residence except for emergencies or to carry out basic activities such as obtaining food or groceries, obtaining medicines, collecting firewood with an appropriate permit, and so on,” the statement said.
Only essential businesses such as gas stations, grocery stores, laundries, and restaurants may remain open, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those companies should enforce the use of mask and spacing.
Most people infected with the virus experience mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that go away within two to three weeks. But for some – especially the elderly and people with underlying health problems – the infection can be deadly.