Navajo Nation reaffirms public health orders in light of rising COVID-19 cases
FARMINGTON — The Navajo Department of Health has unveiled new public health orders and guidelines to continue addressing COVID-19 as new infections increase and more cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant are detected.
This week, department officials reaffirmed the order for residents of the tribal land to stay home as much as possible.
The order recommends residents exercise caution when participating in public activities and practice preventive measures, including wearing face masks, social distancing, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, avoiding unnecessary travel or public gatherings, and washing hands for 20 seconds.
Jill Jim, the tribe's health department director, said the requirement for wearing face masks in public on the tribal land remains in effect.
Since the start of the new year, the tribe has seen the number of new COVID-19 cases climb past 200 in daily reports from the health department.
The Navajo Epidemiology Center confirmed this week there are 19 cases of the Omicron variant on the tribal land.
The cases were found in the Chinle, Kayenta and Tuba City service units under the Navajo Area Indian Health Service and in areas served by Sage Memorial Hospital in Ganado, Arizona, and in the Utah Navajo Health System.
"Our response continues to be that vaccinations continue to be very important for all of our families and family members," said Brian Johnson, acting deputy director of the Navajo Area IHS.
A separate order by the health department placed schools under red status and initiated higher measures for physical distancing in classrooms as well as placing 25% of maximum occupancy for indoor and outdoor sporting events.
Both orders are available on the Navajo Department of Health's COVID-19 website.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has also called on employees in the executive branch to receive booster shots by Jan. 24 or undergo testing every two weeks.
The requirement is outlined in an executive order signed by Nez this week.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at email@example.com.
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