Navajo and Hopi prepare for COVID-19 as Arizona Governor announces statewide school closures
Navajo Nation reduces non-essential government services, closes schools for three weeks; Hopi Tribe stops village tours; resticts travel for employees
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced a statewide closure of Arizona schools from March 16-27 as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced new measures against large gatherings and the city of Flagstaff announces closures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus)
“CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next eight weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States,” the CDC website announced.
Ducey and Hoffman stated they will continue to work with education and public health officials to reassess the need for the school closures and provide further guidance through March 27.
“Over the past few weeks and in coordination with public health officials, we have been in close communication with school administrators to provide guidance and be a resource as it relates to the recent outbreak of COVID-19,” Ducey said. “As more schools announce closures and education administrators express staff shortages within their schools, now is the time to act. A statewide closure is the right thing to do. While this measure will not stop the spread of COVID-19, it will bring certainty and consistency in schools across Arizona.”
The Arizona Department of Health Services has still confirmed only 18 cases in Arizona.
The Nez-Lizer administration announced the temporary reduction in non-essential government services and closure of schools for the next three weeks, starting March 13, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation areas are closed until further notice.
The reduction does not include public safety personnel, firefighters, EMS personnel, Department of Emergency Management, Division of Finance, Division of Social Services and others who provide essential direct services.
“The health and well-being of our Navajo people is the top priority. There are no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus on the Navajo Nation, however under the careful advisement of health experts, emergency preparedness personnel, and other experts the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Preparedness Team continues to move forward with preventive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the Navajo people,” Nez said.
Based on a resolution of the Navajo Nation Board of Education passed March 13, grant schools, contract schools and BIE schools will also close for three weeks. All FACE Programs, Early Childhood Programs, Child Care Development Fund Programs and Navajo Head Start Programs are also included in the three-week closure.
“We are not intending to create panic, but we want everyone to be prepared. We’re staying on top of the situation and we are constantly monitoring the spread of the virus. To our Navajo people, we ask them to make good decisions and to take good care of themselves and their loved ones,” Vice President Myron Lizer said.
Nez and Lizer also issued a letter to the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, urging their board and management to close gaming facilities on the Navajo Nation to further prevent the potential spread of the virus. They also encourage all Navajo Nation enterprises to consider similar measures to prioritize the health and well-being of the public.
As of March 15, the Hopi Health Care Center reported there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in any facility in the IHS Phoenix area. It is asking local patients to arrive 20 minutes early for regular appointments as all patients and visitors will be screened before entry.
The Village of Soongopavi on the Hopi Reservation is closed to tourists and will not provide tours through April 12.
Hopi Tribal employees are restricted to travel within the state of Arizona.
The Hopi Tribe’s Department of Health and Human Services is assisting in the coordination with tribal, federal, state and country programs and resources if and when they need to react to COVID-19 cases.
Hopi Athletics is cancelling all practices over Spring Break.
Coconino County COVID-19 surveillance has resulted in five samples being submitted for testing. Two have been negative for COVID-19. Three samples are still pending, and results are expected March 16. A person will be considered for testing if they are experiencing respiratory symptoms and; came into contact with someone who was tested positive; or traveled to China or other areas experiencing community spread of the virus or respiratory testing has not identified a known illness. Arizona has 18 cases.
City of Flagstaff
On March 16, Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans has issued a proclamation deemed necessary for the protection of life and property in the city of Flagstaff closing a number of businesses and establishments to members of the public to go into effect at 8 p.m. March 17.
All restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, retail food facilities, and other similar
businesses and establishments are prohibited from serving food and beverages for consumption on premises. Members of the public are prohibited from entering and remaining to dine or consume beverages. Businesses that typically offer food and beverages for on-premises consumption are instead encouraged to offer food and beverage using delivery, window, drive- through or drive-up service. If a business chooses to offer this type of “to-go” service, members of the public may remain on its premises for the purpose of picking up their food or beverage orders.
The proclamation also closes the following:
Bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting
rooms, special licensees, clubs, and other similar businesses and establishments offering alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
Theaters, cinemas, and indoor and outdoor performance venues. Libraries and museums.
Gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, yoga and barre studios, and other similar facilities.
Bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor climbing facilities, skating rinks, and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities.
The restrictions do not apply to any of the following:
Grocery stores, markets, convenience stores and other similar businesses and
establishments that offer food and beverage not for on-premises consumption; Pharmacies and drug stores;
Food banks and food pantries;
Cafeterias, commissaries, and restaurants located within health care facilities, nursing homes, shelters, group homes, places of worship, or similar facilities; and
Cafeterias, commissaries, and restaurants located within or on the premises of institutions of higher learning.
Vendors and consessionaries located within the Flagstaff Pullium Airport.
For the duration of these restrictions, the city of Flagstaff downtown paid parking program (Park Flag) will be suspended.
The city of Flagstaff declared a state of emergency March 15, which allows the city to seek resources and recovery assistance.
“The economic impacts to our small businesses and our tourism industry, which is the backbone of our economy is severe,” said Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans. “We are working closely with Coconino County Health and Human Services, who under state law is delegated the authority over public health matters on our local response to monitor this situation and ensure the safety and well-being of our community.”
Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College
Effective Monday, March 23, NAU will move to online instruction. Given the rapidly changing environment around COVID-19, we now anticipate remaining in an online education delivery mode the rest of the semester.
The NAU mountain campus will remain open and operational, and NAU employees will continue to perform their job duties. This includes university housing, computer labs, food service, Campus Health Services, research labs and all other units across the university.
Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the university has and will continue to postpone, cancel or make virtual campus and public events. We are evaluating options for celebrating the achievements of our graduating seniors and graduate students and will soon share plans for commencement.
NAU is working closely with our community college partners and local officials regarding statewide campus operations. Any changes in operational status will be communicated directly to faculty, staff and students at these locations.
Instruction at Coconino Community College will resume March 23, after Spring Break, but students will not be returning to CCC campuses until March 30. Students will not attend class in person for the week of March 23-27 but will be participating in alternative learning methods.
Events scheduled the week of March 23-27 are being canceled. Additional decisions on event cancellations will be made March 23.