Navajo Nation to extend weekend curfew amid coronavirus

The Associated Press

PHOENIX  — PHOENIX (AP) — The Navajo Nation has announced plans to continue its weekend overnight curfew through the first weekend in May to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez announced the plan on Tuesday after reservation officials first implemented the 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday curfew Easter weekend, The Arizona Republic reported.

"The 57-hour weekend curfew was effective in reducing the numbers of people that went into the public," Nez said, adding that officials are "developing a new order to implement similar curfews for the next three weekends for the entire Navajo Nation."

The order is expected to be finalized in the coming days, Navajo Nation spokesperson Jared Touchin said.

The Navajo Police Department enforced the curfew by setting up checkpoints in multiple communities and issuing more than 170 citations to violators, which could include a fine up to $1,000 and 30 days in jail.

The Navajo Nation also has a nighttime curfew requiring residents to stay home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. every day. Essential employees with official identification and people with emergencies are exempt from the restrictions.

Community members in Sheep Springs are reminded about staying at home to combat the new coronavirus. The signs are pictured on April 5 at the flea market in Sheep Springs.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

As of Tuesday, the Navajo Nation reported 838 known cases of coronavirus infections and 33 deaths, 25 more cases and five more deaths than officials reported on Monday.

Five Navajo Nation police employees had tested positive for COVID-19 by Tuesday, including four officers, the department said.

Nez expects an increase in cases for the tribe because of testing expected to produce quicker results.

"The sooner people choose to stay home more, the sooner we will beat the virus and the sooner we can begin to heal," tribe Vice President Myron Lizer said.