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Navajo Nation deals with COVID-19 surge

Issues weekend 'lockdown'
Posted at 6:11 PM, Apr 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-11 21:22:48-04

The Navajo Nation, with land in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, is experiencing an alarming surge in confirmed cases of COVID-19.

As of Friday, April 11, Navajo Nation reported 597 confirmed cases of the deadly virus.

“We are not just going to do nothing,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “We’re not going to just complain and complain. We are going to utilize what we have and find creative ways to flatten this curve.”

Nez and the Navajo Nation vice president are both under a quarantine. The pair have not tested positive, but they were exposed to someone who has the virus.

“I am counting these days because I want to get back out there and help these front line people,” Nez said via a video call from his home. “I kind of had to quarantine myself of on the other end of the house here -- put some plastics just to be on the safe side.”

To stop the spread, Nez implemented a 57-hour curfew.

“It’s a full lockdown if you want to call it that. We are going to have roadblocks. We are going to have checkpoints,” he said.

Plans are being made with FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and National Guard to build makeshift medical facilities on Navajo land in case the outbreak worsens.

“We were looking at gyms. We were looking at other public facilities to transition them to those types of units,” Nez said.

The hope is that the extreme social distancing measures will make an impact to prevent a major crisis.

“What we want to do there is make everybody aware that the safest place to be is at home,” Nez said. “I don’t hear one vehicle driving around out there. That is the only way to stop the outbreak of coronavirus on Navajo Nation.”

The curfew began at 8 p.m. on Friday and will last until 5 a.m. on Monday. Nez did not rule out the possibility of enacting it every weekend going forward.