Navajo Nation health department issues advisory, more lockdowns due to new COVID-19 cases
FARMINGTON — The sharp rise in new COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation has prompted the tribe's health department to issue a health advisory for several communities on the reservation and impose extra weekend lockdowns.
In the Nov. 4 advisory, the Navajo Department of Health identified 29 communities as experiencing "uncontrolled spread" of COVID-19 infections, based on cases from Oct. 16 to Oct. 29.
The cluster of cases is due to family gatherings and travel away from the reservation, according to the department.
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In New Mexico, the communities of Alamo, Casamero Lake, Church Rock, Counselor, Coyote Canyon, Crownpoint, Iyanbito, Sanostee, Sheep Springs, Shiprock, Tóhajiilee, Torreon and Two Grey Hills are on the advisory list.
Also on the list are Aneth, Birdsprings, Bodaway-Gap, Cameron, Dilkon, Ganado, Indian Wells, Jeddito, Kaibeto, Leupp, Nahata Dziil, Red Mesa, Round Rock, Teesto, Tolani Lake and Tonalea, all located outside of New Mexico.
The advisory states that residents in those communities should exercise COVID-19 precautions and practice health and safety measures to help stop the spread of the disease.
"The advisory will be in effect until the risk and cases decline," the document states.
Jill Jim, the tribe's health department director, told the Navajo Nation Council last week that the tribe is in a second wave of new coronavirus infections.
"The uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 means that people who are testing positive in these areas likely do not know where or how they contracted the virus. We are back to the point of community spread in certain parts of the Navajo Nation," tribal President Jonathan Nez said in the press release from his office.
The health department reported 131 new cases on Nov. 4, which brings the total number of cases to 12,080.
The new public health emergency order issued by the department continues the 56-hour lockdown for the next two weekends. The start and end times will be the same as previous lockdowns.
Unlike previous emergency orders, gas stations, grocery stores, laundromats, restaurants and food establishments can operate from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the lockdown.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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