Navajo Nation issues new stay-at-home order and 57-hour weekend lockdown
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation re-issues stay-at-home order and 57-hour weekend lockdowns because of rising COVID-19 cases within and near the Navajo Nation.
Some of the rising cases were within the Sage Memorial Hospital service area and in satellite chapters in the Eastern Navajo Agency in New Mexico, which the administration and health care experts said are directly related to travel off the Navajo Nation and family gatherings where social distancing and the wearing of masks were not enforced.
The order started Sept. 22 and ends on Sept. 29. The 57-hour weekend lockdown will begin at 8 p.m. (MDT) Sept. 25 until 5 a.m. (MDT) Sept. 28. Additional weekend lockdowns may follow. Daily curfew hours are Monday through Friday from 9 p.m. (MDT) to 5 a.m. (MDT). Gatherings of more than five people are prohibited.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the health and safety of all the Navajo people depend on everyone adhering to the advice and recommendations of its health care experts, whose expertise led to the decrease in new cases on the Navajo Nation over the last few months.
“It only takes a few new cases to create multiple clusters of positive COVID-19 cases,” Nez said. “The latest reports of cluster cases result from individuals who traveled to cities off the Navajo Nation, returned home with the virus and spread it to others during family gatherings, despite active public health orders that clearly restrict any in-person gatherings.”
Nez said while the new cases are being investigated, the public health experts and contact tracers have begun to mobilize resources to help identify who may have been exposed to the virus, to isolate positive cases and provide food and other essential items to those who are now in isolation.
Surrounding counties and states such as Coconino County and the state of Utah have reported increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases recently, which also increases risks for residents of the Navajo Nation, particularly when residents travel to other “hot spot” areas.
“The increases in new cases is very alarming,” said Vice President Myron Lizer. “We do not yet know the full extent of exposures and infections due to the recent cluster cases, but everyone can do their part to protect themselves and their families. Unfortunately, we will see substantial increases in new COVID-19 cases.
Public Health Emergency Order No. 2020-023 states:
“Individuals may leave their place of residence only for emergencies or to perform "essential activities," which primarily include activities and tasks essential to health, safety, and welfare. All businesses including all stores, gas stations, restaurants, drive-thru food establishments, hay and all other vendors are required to cease operations and close during the partial weekend lockdowns and daily curfew hours.”
Individuals are permitted to conduct farming activities and tend to livestock, however livestock owners must plan ahead to purchase hay and feed — hay vendors will not be allowed to sell during the weekend lockdown and daily curfew hours.
Residents are also allowed to exercise outdoors within their immediate residential area or home site area during non-curfew hours. Essential employees reporting to or from duty are exempted from the weekend lockdown, but must carry official identification or a letter of designation from their employer on official letterhead which includes a contact name and number for verification.
To view Public Health Emergency Order No. 2020-023, please click the following link: https://www.opvp.navajo-nsn.gov/Portals/0/FILES/Latest%20News/NDOH%20Public%20Health%20Emergency%20Order%202020-023%20Dikos%20Ntsaaigii-19.pdf
More information, including helpful prevention tips and resources to help stop the spread of COVID-19, is available by visiting the Navajo Department of Health's COVID-19 website: http://www.ndoh.navajo-nsn.gov/COVID-19.