Story at glance
- As states lifted stay-at-home orders, some saw spikes in new coronavirus cases.
- The Navajo Nation has reinstated a lockdown due to a rise in cases in the surrounding areas.
- Residents have limited access to medical care and other vital resources
The Navajo Nation is under lockdown for the next two weekends as cases spike in parts of Arizona and Utah. The reservation had transitioned to a "safer at home" policy on June 5, as the surrounding states began to reopen.
Arizona reported a new high of 2,519 cases on Thursday, and hospitalizations have doubled since the Memorial Day holiday. The state’s stay at home order expired on May 15, and businesses have begun to reopen. Utah just reported its second-largest one-day increase in COVID-19 cases, and New Mexico surpassed 10,000 cases on Wednesday, with a majority of cases in San Juan and McKinley counties, which border the Navajo Nation.
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"With the state of Arizona relaxing its precautions and allowing its stay-at-home order to expire, the metropolitan areas are seeing dramatic increases of COVID-19 cases. I cannot stress enough to our Navajo people the importance of staying home. It only takes a few people traveling to Phoenix or other hotspots to catch the virus and start another wave of new cases here on the Navajo Nation. If we stay at home and limit all travels, we can beat this virus," Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a release.
Under the order, all residents of the Navajo Nation must remain at home except for the purpose of voting, farming or exercising. Essential employees with official documentation will also be allowed to travel to and from work. The lockdown will span the 57 hours of the next two weekends, as well as curfew hours from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.
All businesses will be closed as well, including the 13 grocery stores that serve the population of more than 170,000 people. A third of the residents do not have running water and many travel to neighboring states for basic items.
There have been 6,747 positive cases of COVID-19 and 322 confirmed deaths reported by the Navajo Department of Health. In May, the reservation surpassed New York as the region with the highest coronavirus infection rate per capita in the United States.
"We have to keep doing what we're doing by wearing protective masks, complying with the weekend lockdowns, staying home, and maintaining a six-foot distance from others. Now is not the time to back down. Let’s not back down. Wear your masks, practice social distancing, and wash your hands," said Nez in the release.
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