Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 31, 2020

Navajo Nation creates field medical stations as coronavirus cases increase to 148

Twenty new cases and three more deaths related to COVID-19 reported, Medical stations being established in Chinle and Tuba City

By Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer
March 31, 2020
Censored News

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — According to the Navajo Department of Health and Navajo Area Indian Health Service, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center, the number of positive tests for COVID-19 has reached a total of 148 for the Navajo Nation as of Monday. In addition, there are now a total of five confirmed deaths related to COVID-19.
The 148 cases include the following counties:
Navajo County, AZ: 69
Apache County, AZ: 16 *changed due to clarification of one individual’s residency
Coconino County, AZ: 32
McKinley County, NM: 9
San Juan County, NM: 15
Cibola County, NM: 1
San Juan County, UT: 6
On Monday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer met with health care officials and emergency responders who are working to fully establish a federal medical station to help fight the spread of COVID-19 in the community of Chinle, Ariz.
On Sunday, President Nez and Vice President Lizer spoke with the Federal Emergency Management Agency - Region 9 Administrator Robert J. Fenton to coordinate the mobilization of federal personnel to deliver much-needed equipment including 58 beds, blankets, personal protective equipment, and other essential items at the Chinle Community Center. Chinle Unified School District Superintendent Quincy Natay and others were instrumental in making the facility available for use.
“We are thankful to FEMA and Mr. Natay for the assistance, but we also recognize that it’s not enough. In speaking with the health care experts, the supplies that were delivered won’t last a full week, but we’re continuing to work hard every day to bring more and more resources. The Navajo Nation is also stepping up and using our own funds from the $4 million appropriation that was approved recently,” said President Nez.

They also met with Chinle Comprehensive Healthcare Facility Acting CEO Darlene Chee and Incident Commander Dante Halleck, to begin assessing the best use of the federal medical station. One possibility may be to have patients who test positive for COVID-19, who show less severe symptoms, housed at the medical station to isolate the virus and prevent it from spreading.
“We haven’t nearly reached the peak of the virus — that’s what’s our health care experts are telling us. So, we need to be proactive and do everything we can to prepare for the worse, but pray and hope for the best. We thank everyone who is working around the clock and behind the scenes to help our Navajo people,” stated Vice President Lizer.
The National Guard is also working with the Tuba City Regional Health Care Center to provide some relief for medical staff and personnel while the Tuba City Chapter setup tent facilities on Sunday, at the local fairgrounds area to use as medical stations.
President Nez and Vice President Lizer also requested New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to begin coordinating the establishment of medical stations in the state of New Mexico for members of the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Nation also issued a new Public Health Order to extend the current “Stay at Home Order” and implemented a curfew for the entire Navajo Nation that requires everyone to stay home ‪from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., seven days a week. It states that all individuals shall be at home during curfew hours except in the event of an emergency. This curfew does not apply to essential employees reporting to or from duty, with official identification and/or a letter of designation from their essential business employer on official letterhead which includes a contact for verification.
“Stay home and stay safe! The Navajo Police Department, under Police Chief Francisco, will be visible in communities throughout the Nation to make sure people are complying with the new curfew. We need to protect our people,” added President Nez.
The Public Health Order outlines provisions for essential businesses as well. Everyone is encouraged to read the entire Public Health Order, which is available on the Navajo Department of Health website at:

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