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Navajo Nation extends lockdown into new year over coronavirus cases

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Travel on the Navajo Nation has been reduced to essential under a series of public health emergency orders issued by the Navajo Department of Health due to coronavirus cases.

GALLUP — The Navajo Nation will start the new year with more weekend lockdowns and continued restrictions due to the rate of new coronavirus infections on the reservation.

Health officials for the tribe authorized lockdowns for Jan. 1 through Jan. 4 and for Jan. 8 through Jan. 11. The lockdowns will start at 8 p.m. Friday and end at 5 a.m. Monday.

The Navajo Department of Health ordered the continuance on Dec. 24 due to the current public health emergency "as well as escalating incidents and community spread of COVID-19."

The order went into effect on Dec. 28. It is scheduled to end on Jan. 11 unless extended or modified by health officials.

As with previous orders, the document requires all residents remain at home with the exception of essential workers reporting to and from work, to address emergency situations, to obtain food, medication and supplies, to tend to livestock, to exercise outdoors within the immediate vicinity of a person's residence, and to gather firewood under a permit.

More:COVID-19: Updates on case numbers and restrictions in San Juan County and Navajo Nation

A homemade sign reminds motorists on Navajo Route 36 on April 25 to follow the public health emergency order issued by the Navajo Department of Health due to the number of coronavirus infections.

Essential businesses, including gas stations, grocery stores, laundromats, restaurants or food establishments that provide drive-thru and curbside service, and vendors who sell hay, can operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

People must also refrain from gathering with individuals from outside their immediate household and all residents are required to wear face masks in public, avoid public gatherings, maintain social distance and remain in their vehicles during drive-thru or curbside services.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer also signed another executive order to limit services under the executive branch through Jan. 10, according to the president's office.

"During the holidays we have many blessings to be thankful for, but we have to celebrate safely this year. As we approach the new year, please continue to avoid having guests in your home from other households to avoid the risks of COVID-19," Nez said in a press release.

"With the extension of the stay-at-home lockdown and the 57-hour weekend lockdowns, we are trying to bring down the numbers of new cases and deaths associated with the coronavirus," Nez said.

More:East side Walmart in Farmington closed for sanitizing after employees positive for COVID-19

On Dec. 28, the Navajo Health Command Operations Center issued its ninth advisory for uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in communities.

There were 68 communities listed, including Beclabito, Hogback, Newcomb, Sanostee, Sheep Springs, Shiprock, Two Grey Hills and Upper Fruitland.

The list was compiled from data collected between Dec. 11 to Dec. 24, the advisory states.

"We won't know the impact of the Christmas holiday for several more days, so we don't know the full extent of exposure and new infections," Nez said in the press release that announced the advisory.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-546-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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