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FARMINGTON — A new public health emergency order by the Navajo Department of Health authorizes "drive-in gatherings" for activities and events on the Navajo Nation, but no person-to-person contact due to the novel coronavirus.

According to the emergency order, "drive-in gatherings" include parking lots used for internet access, religious services, funeral services, graduations, firework displays and similar events.

There is no restriction for the number of people to gather, but they are required to remain in vehicles for duration of the event, the vehicle's occupants must be from the same household and maintain six feet of separation from other individuals in vehicles.

Gatherings cannot occur during the daily curfew, which is from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., and conducted with no contact between participants and maintain social distance and the wearing of face masks or cloth face coverings.

According to the emergency order, the Navajo Health Command Operations Center received several requests to exempt public gatherings from previous public health emergency orders.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez mentioned on June 3 that the tribe's health department would issue an emergency order for public gatherings.

A press release from his office announced the approval of the emergency order on June 5.

"The public health orders continue to combat COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation and to prevent any potential spikes in new cases," Nez said in the release.

The number of COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation reached 5,808 on June 5, according to the health department along with the Navajo Area Indian Health Service and the Navajo Epidemiology Center.

There have been 269 deaths attributed to the disease, the health agencies reported.

Nez's office reported that 11 hospitals indicate that approximately 2,576 individuals have recovered.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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