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New coronavirus health order: Navajo Nation under 32-hour weekend lockdowns in August

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Two days after the Navajo Nation president announced revamping curfews and lockdowns for residents on tribal land, the Navajo Department of Health released its document reflecting those changes.

Residents have, since April, been under a 57-hour lockdown from Friday evening to Monday morning. This week, health department officials adjusted the start times and days for the lockdown and reduced the hours to 32 under the latest public health emergency order.

The times and dates for the lockdowns are:

  • From 9 p.m. Aug. 8 to 5 a.m. Aug. 10
  • From 9 p.m. Aug. 15 to 5 a.m. Aug. 17
  • From 9 p.m. Aug. 22 to 5 a.m. Aug. 24
  • From 9 p.m. Aug. 29 to 5 a.m. Aug 31

The department of health revised the restriction due to decreases in new cases of COVID-19 and the lower rate of hospitalization for the tribe.

The number of positive cases for COVID-19 reported on April 23 by health agencies on the Navajo Nation is shown on a sign placed on U.S. Highway 64 in Shiprock.

While concern remains about the number of positive cases in neighboring states, the public health emergency order mentions that state health departments have reported that the rate of new cases has lowered during the last seven days and hospital capacity is lower than the 80% threshold.

MORE:Navajo Nation modifies daily, weekend curfews amid COVID-19 pandemic

The tribe's public health emergency order also lists a 9 p.m. start time for the daily curfew beginning on Aug. 7. It will still end at 5 a.m.

Despite the curfew and lockdown adjustments, health experts advise residents to continue to adhere to all public health orders to avoid another spike in new cases.

On Aug. 6, the Navajo Nation had 9,223 total positive cases of COVID-19 and 468 deaths related to the disease.

A pickup truck travels on Navajo Route 13 near the Shiprock pinnacle on April 25 during a weekend lockdown on the Navajo Nation. The tribe's department of health recently reduced the number of hours for weekend lockdowns from 57 hours to 32 hours.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez mentioned the reduction in hours for the lockdown in remarks on Aug. 4 but stated it would be for this weekend. The inclusion of each weekend in August was implemented by the department of health on Aug. 6.

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Nez noted in the press release about the modification that the number of new COVID-19 cases has been less than 100 for 42 days, but communities still face risk from the new virus.

"That risk is elevated even more when we have our citizens traveling off the Navajo Nation, visiting family and friends and going into public often. Until there is a safe vaccine in place, we will continue to face this modern-day monster," Nez said in the release.

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.