Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Sun, Feb. 28

Hopi Tribe issues warning about the continuing spread of COVID-19

The Hopi tribal health department said cases are following a national trend, with cases rising on the reservation. (Adobe Stock)

The Hopi tribal health department said cases are following a national trend, with cases rising on the reservation. (Adobe Stock)

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. — The Hopi Tribe issued a bare warning about COVID-19 Dec. 9 as cases increase in the United States and show no sign of slowing as holidays and the winter season continues.

Royce Jenkins, director of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Hopi Tribe’s Public Health Authority said there is a similar pattern on Hopi.

“The daunting part is that we experienced a tough two months over the summer and we are going right into a challenging winter with COVID-19,” he said. “We have laid the groundwork with information and education about how we can all combat the virus. We need to follow it.”

Despite all the guidelines provided to the public, especially in recent weeks, the entire Hopi reservation has experienced a dramatic increase in cases, with more than 25 positive cases in a single day Dec. 8.

Several tribal government programs and departments have been impacted by COVID-19. The entire workforce across Hopi is witnessing the hurdles the virus delivers as winter continues. The Office of the Chairman and the Office of the Vice Chairman have also experienced challenges with staff members contracting the virus.

“We have seen recent compromises in our own villages, businesses and even in our own offices, and as long as COVID-19 is on Hopi, we have to be extra cautious with where we travel or who we engage with in our own homes,” said Hopi Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma. “Even though a majority of the employees on Hopi might be working from home, we all have to take extra precaution when it comes to protecting our families and our health. The overall welfare of our Hopi community is our top priority.”

More than 75 percent of the employee base on Hopi is tele-working.

Although many employees from the various local schools, organizations and businesses are working remotely, the tribe warned any individual can come into contact with coronavirus and not know it at all.

The tribe also said essential trips to the grocery store, laundromat, or a gas station bathroom can serve as a hotbed for the virus as droplets float in the air and high touch surfaces can carry germs.

“We are seeing the results of Hopi people traveling off the reservation during Thanksgiving and visiting places where Hopi residents came into contact with the virus, then returned back home,” Jenkins said.

He said if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise at a rapid rate, the local health care system could be completely overwhelmed by the pandemic.

“Infections are soaring throughout the state, and if we don’t do anything to stop the movement of the virus we could be facing some dire consequences on Hopi,” Jenkins said.

“Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19,” the CDC has continued to warn citizens. “Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus.”

Several weeks ago, the Hopi leadership issued another “Stay at Home” directive and a strong recommendation to the Hopi community to limit travels away from the reservation during the holidays.

The Hopi government will continue with limited operations. Many essential tribal programs and departments will continue to serve the community in a smaller capacity. The Office of the Chairman will remain operational, while the Office of the Vice Chairman will work strictly from home for the next several weeks.

“Our Hopi people need to heed the warnings. We have to listen to warnings provided by the CDC and our own Hopi Health Care Center,” Jenkins said. “We learned some hard lessons from this past summer, and I will say that if we were able to bring our numbers down to zero like we achieved last August, we can do it again. We all have to work together. Please help us stop the virus. Pull it together. Be Hopi strong.”

More information or questions is available from The Hopi Tribe Department of Health & Human Services at (928) 734-3402.

Information provided by the Hopi Office of the Chairman and Office of the Vice Chairman

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