Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 15, 2020

Southwest coronavirus cases increase for young adults. Virus continues spread on Navajo Nation

Navajo President led food and supply delivery to Teecnospos, Aneth, Red Mesa, Mexican Water, Rock Point, and Lukachukai on Thursday. Photos by Navajo President's Office.

Navajo Nation: 141 new cases and eight more deaths reported, with 3,632 cases and 127 deaths 

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

The Navajo Nation reported 141 new cases of COVID-19 and a total of 127 deaths as of Thursday. The number of cases is now 3,632. 

Meanwhile, New Mexico reported two deaths of young adults, a woman in her 20s and a man in his 30s, in McKinley County on Thursday, which includes Gallup, portions of eastern Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo.

Arizona reports the age group most likely to contract the virus is 20 to 44 years old. The largest number of cases in Arizona are in the Phoenix, Maricopa County, region. The ethnic group most likely to contract the virus in Arizona is white, Arizona State reports.

Nursing homes in New Mexico and Arizona show a large number of deaths, with high numbers of deaths in the border towns of Farmington, N.M. and Tucson, Ariz.

IHS shows the large increase in coronavirus cases in the agencies of Navajo, Albuquerque and Phoenix. The Tohono O'odham radio station reports there are 40 cases on the nation and five deaths. There are also increases in the Great Plains and Billings IHS agencies. Thousands now have the virus across the U.S. which spread from workers in meat processing plants, which includes those in South Dakota and Nebraska. The Albuquerque IHS includes the Pueblos.

On the Navajo Nation, preliminary reports from a few health care facilities indicate that approximately 515 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, with more reports still pending.

On Thursday, President Nez announced another public health emergency order to implement a 57-hour weekend lockdown from May 15 to May 18, starting 8:00 p.m. (MDT) on Friday to 5:00 a.m. (MDT) on Monday, and to close all essential businesses due to the community spread of COVID-19.

On the Navajo Nation, in regards to the increase in COVID-19 cases, President Nez stated that early projections from health care experts in March, showed that the Navajo Nation would reach its peak in the number of new cases in mid-May.

“The projections from health care experts seem to be accurate because we are seeing a peak in numbers now and we are hopeful that it will begin to flatten and eventually decline. The weekend lockdown is to further restrict the movement of individuals on the Nation and to and from border towns. The number of COVID-19 positive cases and the number of fatalities continues to increase because individuals continue to leave their homes, many on weekends to avoid the weekend lockdowns. We will overcome COVID-19, but it’s going to be a much longer process as long as people continue to travel unnecessarily. It’s up to us to flatten the curve and bring the numbers down by staying home,” said President Nez.

The Navajo Nation’s 57-hour weekend lockdown requires all residents to remain at home except essential workers, first responders, and health care workers. Essential businesses, including stores, gas stations, restaurants, drive-thru food establishments, hay vendors, and other vendors, shall cease all operations during the lockdown.

“The state of Arizona and other states are reopening restaurants and other businesses, however, the Navajo Nation is not ready to open. Based on the advice from our health care experts and the data, we need to continue to take precautionary measures until the number of cases decreases. We have to be more disciplined and accountable for our actions – collectively and individually,” said Vice President Lizer.

During the weekend lockdown, Navajo residents can leave their homesites only in cases of safety, health, or medical emergencies. The Health Operations Command Center urges anyone who feels they might have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 to immediately contact their medical provider.

On Thursday, the Nez-Lizer Administration delivered food, water, clothing, protective masks, and more essential items to approximately 600 Navajo families in the communities of Teecnospos, Aneth, Red Mesa, Mexican Water, Rock Point, and Lukachukai.

President Nez said this week, the Navajo Epidemiology Center worked closely with healthcare providers to conduct a quality assurance assessment on the number of COVID-19 cases. Due to cross jurisdictional challenges and longer than normal verification processes, an additional 99 previously unreported positive cases were identified and added to the overall total. As a result, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases for the Navajo Nation has reached 3,632.

The 3,632 confirmed positive cases on the Navajo Nation include the following counties:

· Apache County, AZ: 948
· McKinley County, NM: 928
· Navajo County, AZ: 757
· San Juan County, NM: 428
· Coconino County, AZ: 353
· San Juan County, UT: 126
· Cibola County, NM: 37
· Sandoval County, NM: 26
· Socorro County, NM: 26
· Bernalillo County: 3

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