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As COVID-19 cases increase in areas near Navajo Nation, more weekend lockdowns announced

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Vehicles move on U.S. Highway 491 between Shiprock and Table Mesa during a weekend lockdown on April 25, 2020.

FARMINGTON — Navajo Nation residents will be under lockdown for the next two weekends.

Starting this weekend, the lockdown will be in effect between 8 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Monday.

The lockdown will also be in effect from July 31 to Aug. 3, according to the public health emergency order issued on July 17 by the Navajo Department of Health.

The department made the order due to the increase in positive cases of COVID-19 in areas surrounding the reservation.

"Areas surrounding the Navajo Nation are experiencing an alarming rise in positive COVID-19 cases. Hospitals and health care systems in these areas are being drastically impacted. These factors threaten the Navajo people's health and well-being and also have the potential to overwhelm the health care system on the Navajo Nation," the order states.

As with previous lockdowns, all businesses will be closed during that time and residents are encouraged to prepare for the closures.

"A separate order is being developed to require residents that travel to 'hot spots' to quarantine for 14 days when they return to the Navajo Nation," a July 19 press release from the tribe's Office of the President and Vice President states.

The Navajo Housing Authority placed a sign along U.S. Highway 491 to remind the public to follow health guidelines for combating the coronavirus.

The Navajo Nation had 8,593 positive cases and 422 confirmed deaths as of July 19, according to the press release.

The release mentioned that the number of new cases for the tribe has been less than 100 over the last 24 days.

New Mexico on July 19 had 241 new cases, raising the total to 16,971, the state health department reported. The increase in new cases this month prompted government-ordered restrictions for businesses and a rollback on the state's reopening.

Arizona has seen sharp spikes in new cases in recent weeks. There were 1,559 new cases reported on July 20, bringing the total to 145,183, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The July 19 report by the Utah Department of Health listed 34,111 total cases for the state.

The Navajo Department of Health has been issuing curfews and lockdowns since March. Such orders have been made with the intent and purpose to limit contact and restrict movement of individuals in response to the coronavirus.

The July 17 order reminds residents that the weekday curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. remains in effect.

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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