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Navajo Nation put under curfew over coronavirus epidemic

Everyone on the Navajo Nation must remain at home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., 7 days a week, officials proclaimed in a curfew and extension of the preceding "Stay at Home" order as the COVID-19 outbreak on the reservation reached 128 reported cases Sunday.

Two tribal members have died in the outbreak.

"Stay home, stay safe! We are doing our best to keep people safe, but the government can’t do everything and that’s why everyone needs to stay home as much as possible," said President Jonathan Nez. "Every person is responsible for taking precautions to preserve their own health. This curfew is an added measure to protect our Navajo people, especially our elderly and high-risk. Everyone should read the new order entirely."

“Washing your hands often, avoid direct person-to-person contact with others, and stay home – that’s how we begin to beat the virus. We don’t have enough doctors, nurses, first responders, hospital beds, ventilators, and other resources to treat everyone. We have to do our part by preventing the spread of the virus,” Vice President Myron Lizer said.

Only essential workers, who must carry a document from their employers, will be allowed to be out past the curfew.

In addition to the nightly curfew, announced Sunday, the "Stay at Home" public health emergency declaration remains in effect, requiring all residents of far-flung reservation to remain home, and all non-essential businesses to close.

Navajo officials said the majority of the cases on the reservation, which extends across state lines into New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, involve patients who reported their symptoms to the clinic in Kayenta, Ariz., with others treated in Chinle, Ariz., and Shiprock, N.M.

Of the cases on the Native American reservation reported by Sunday, 57 cases were in Navajo County, 18 in Apache County, 19 in Coconino County, and across the state line, 6 in McKinley County, 12 in San Juan County and 1 in Cibola County, N.M. Another 2 cases were reported in San Juan County, Utah.

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"We've reached a point where our medical facilities and health care workers are in dire need of more Personal Protective Equipment, hospital beds, and other critical resources and it's only going to increase if people continue to ignore orders to stay home as much as possible," said Nez.

The Navajo Nation announced a full lockdown last Sunday, issuing a "shelter in place" order.

From Sunday's public health order:

  • To the greatest extent possible, limit operations before 6:00 A.M. and after 7:00 P.M. to permit customers to obey the 8:00 P.M. to 5 A.M. curfew. This does not apply to Essential Businesses that do not directly serve customers.
  • Restaurants and other businesses serving prepared food must provide an outdoor order station and/or a means for people to call ahead to place an order and enable individuals to remain in their vehicles for pick-up.
  • Gas stations must either provide a fueling attendant to pump gas, enabling individuals to remain in their vehicles, or provide disinfectant wipes or spray for self-service customer use.
  • Banks and financial institutions must provide drive-thru services only. Banker services can be provided to customers through technology-based means (i.e. telephone, web-based meeting, etc). ATM services may be provided so long as disinfectant wipes or spray is made available for customer use.
  • Grocery stores, food banks, convenience stores, hardware stores and the like are required to limit the number of customers in the store to no more than 10 customers at a time. These businesses shall ensure that customers waiting to enter or pay maintain the required 6-feet Social Distancing.
  • Post Offices, including rural mail delivery locations, are not required to provide curb-side or drive-thru delivery requirements, however disinfectant wipes or spray should be made available for customer use.
  • Laundry facilities shall limit customer occupancy to 2 people per household and no more than 10 persons at any given time, and shall make available disinfectant wipes or spray for customer use.
  • All other Essential Businesses not specifically addressed in this section shall post a notice at their place of business with a contact number for customers to receive service during business hours, and also provide contact information for services 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.

The 22,000-square-mile Navajo reservation has a population of 148,000.

The Hopi Reservation in Northern Arizona remains locked down after the COVID-19 epidemic on the surrounding Navajo Nation grew to areas near the border between the Native American nations.

Hopi tribal officials announced the quarantine order last Monday.

The 2,500-square-mile reservation, which sits entirely within the boundaries of the Navajo reservation, is home to the Hopi and Arizona Tewa people, with about 7,000 residents.

The Hopi quarantine is set to last at least through April 17.

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Navajo Nation

A Navajo Police Department checkpoint near Chilchinbeto, Ariz., a week ago.