Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 16, 2020

Rapid spread of coronavirus on Navajo Nation brings total to 921 cases and 38 deaths

Now on Navajo Nation: 83 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths reported, with weekend 57-hour curfews to continue through April

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer
Censored News

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The total number of positive tests for COVID-19 has reached 921 for the Navajo Nation as of Wednesday – an increase of 83 positive cases since Tuesday, according to the Navajo Department of Health and Navajo Area Indian Health Service, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center. The report also includes 3,239 total negative test results as of Wednesday. There is now a total of 38 confirmed deaths related to COVID-19.

The 921 confirmed positive cases include the following counties: Navajo County, Ariz,: 288; Apache County, AZ: 121; Coconino County, Ariz.: 189; McKinley County, NM: 170; San Juan County, NM: 119; Cibola County, NM: 12; San Juan County, Utah: 11; Socorro County, NM: 7; Sandoval County, NM: 4

"We truly thank many of those who are abiding by the stay-at-home order and the daily curfew, but it’s very disheartening to receive reports of many people going out into the public today and traveling to border towns – most due to the federal stimulus funds that our people are beginning to receive. We are close to finalizing another public health order to implement 57-hour curfew for the remaining weekends for the month of April,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

During a live Facebook update on Wednesday, President Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer urged members of the Navajo Nation to be prudent with their stimulus funds and to save as much as possible due to the uncertainties of the ongoing pandemic.

“We don’t all have to rush out and go shopping because we have some extra funds. Let’s be smart and plan financially for our families and let’s continue to use extreme caution so we don’t spread the virus especially among our elders. 38 people is a scary number – all of our people need to do a better job and stop traveling unless it’s absolutely necessary,” said Vice President Lizer.

Navajo Nation communities receive food donations from the State of New Mexico and Arizona’s St. Mary’s Food Bank

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer commend the state of New Mexico and St. Mary’s Food Bank for coordinating the donation of essential food items to Navajo communities to help families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the state of New Mexico delivered 9,720 food boxes that include more than 80,000 pounds of rice, beans, potatoes, watermelons, apples, and onions to a designated staging chapter area to help those directly impacted by COVID-19. Communities will prepare the food boxes for delivery to elders and high-risk individuals to New Mexico residents. The New Mexico Indian Affairs Department coordinated the multi-agency efforts that led to several deliveries in Sheep Springs, Thoreau, Standing Rock, and other communities to be distributed regionally.

"On behalf of the Office of the President and Vice President, we express our appreciation to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico Department of Indian Affairs, and Arizona’s St. Mary’s Food Bank for working closely with the Navajo Nation's leadership and local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic is affecting thousands of our Navajo people in profound ways, including the loss of work, lack of medical care, and the need for food and household supplies. The outbreak has significantly impacted families and elders that live in isolated areas of the Navajo Nation, especially those who do not have transportation," said President Jonathan Nez.

"The state of New Mexico will do everything in its power to support the sovereign tribes and pueblos of this state during this pandemic," said New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. "My administration has been in constant contact with tribal leaders and partners -- we will continue deliveries of food, water and other necessary resources in addition to the work the Department of Health has done in testing and providing for medical needs. I am grateful for this response and expect more to come in the near- and long-term future."

On April 14, St. Mary’s Food Bank delivered three semi-truck loads totaling 2,000 food boxes to the Tuba City community, where many local and surrounding residents had the opportunity to pick-up the food boxes through a no person-to-person contact procedure. All personal and volunteers wore Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure the safety and well-being of elders and families.

Through the Nation’s partnerships, the Nez-Lizer Administration continues to seek resources for Navajo citizens, patients, elders, and high-risk individuals with necessities such as PPE’s, food, water, sanitizing products, and household items. The distribution of these items also helps families to stay home and to self-quarantine for longer periods of time to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"The effective partnerships have helped us to ensure families know how to find food while schools and senior centers are closed and making sure our children and elders are getting three meals a day. Helping one another will allow us to slow the spread of the virus in the Navajo Nation. As leaders, we will continue to provide resources to help lessen the economic and educational impact of the virus," said Vice President Lizer.

The Navajo Health Command Operation Center will utilize the strike teams, Community Health Representatives, Public Health Nurse, and first responders, to deliver food boxes to elders and individuals with serious underlying medical conditions.

“Tó Nanees Dizi Local Governance is setting a good example for all communities. They have been proactive in working collaboratively with the Navajo Health Command Operations Center and other entities to secure items to help their residents. I thank them and many others for working together,” added President Nez.

For more information regarding donations, please contact the Navajo Nation Health Command Center at (928) 871-7014.

The Navajo Nation’s daily curfew remains in effect from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. and Navajo Police continue to issue citations for curfew violators. President Nez and Vice President Lizer will host another online Town Hall to share COVID-19 updates beginning at 10:00 a.m. (MDT) on Thursday on the Nez-Lizer Facebook page.

For more information including reports, helpful prevention tips, and more resources, please visit the Navajo Department of Health’s COVID-19 website at To contact the main Navajo Health Command Operations Center, please call (928) 871-7014.

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