With COVID 19 numbers rising in the Navajo Nation (which stretches across Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico,) the leadership, for the second time this year, instituted a three-week lockdown to mitigate the spread of the pandemic.
The Nation has seen a surge in new cases with 172 reported last weekend.
In the previous surge last spring, infections on the Navajo Nation surpassed New York and New Jersey.
According to reporting from KTAR, “the Navajo Nation Department of Health identified 34 communities with an uncontrollable spread of coronavirus” in the last week.
According to reporting from CNN, there is an obvious fear that COVID 19 numbers, could reach the horrific rates seen earlier in the year. That fear is amplified by the surge in the rest of the country which could inhibit the availability of health care volunteers who worked to help Navajo residents during the summer.
- No tourist access.
- Closure of non-essential businesses.
- Schools will revert to online virtual instruction.
- “Essential businesses like grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and laundry mats will be allowed to stay open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.”
- Mask wearing, sanitizing measures, and social distancing need to vigorously enforced.
- People can only leave their home for emergencies, essentials, and
In an initial statement reported by NPR, Navajo President Jonathan Nez said:
“Unfortunately, it appears that this pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better. The projections from our health care experts indicate that the Navajo Nation, as well as the country, is on an upward trajectory in terms of new cases of COVID-19. Please hold yourselves and your loved ones accountable and please pray for our Nation.”
Later in a press conference reported by KTAR, Nez said:
“If our people don’t make drastic changes and if we continue to hold gatherings, travel off the Navajo Nation, and to be careless then we are soon going to be in a major crisis situation. This virus is real, it’s potentially deadly, and anyone can catch it.”
On CNN, he said to his constituents to:
“Stay local and stay safe. To our family and friends of the Navajo Nation, now is not the time to visit. Now we are just praying and hoping that we will be able to use those same protocols that enabled us to get past the first wave.”
According to reporting by CNN, there is a scramble to coordinate quarantine locations and bring electricity and water to residents who have not had direct access to it.
In the interview with CNN, Nez expressed hope for the prospects of a vaccine, saying: “We are hopeful that we can get these vaccines, the safe vaccines, distributed to the most vulnerable of our population which is our elders…”
He also said that he was confident that the incoming Biden-Harris Administration, with whom the Navajo’s “have a seat at the table” will treat them equitably with regards to vaccine distribution. Nez expressed concern whether the current Trump Administration would be just as fair to the Navajo and the other Native American Nations before they leave office.
It is gratifying that the Navajo leadership is taking these necessary steps to protect and save the residents of the Native American Nation.
Local mayors across Arizona like those in Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Tucson have also taken proactive steps to ensure public safety.
It will be interesting to see what posture Governor Doug Ducey takes at his 2:00 p.m. news briefing this afternoon.