Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 4, 2020

Navajo Nation reports 128 new coronavirus cases. Dine' continue helping Dine'

Photo courtesy Mercury Bitsuie. Grassroots Dine' volunteer delivering aid.

Navajo Nation reports 128 new coronavirus cases. Dine' continue helping Dine'

Article by Brenda Norrell
Censored News
June 3, 2020

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Navajo Nation reported 128 new cases of coronavirus and seven more deaths in the past 24 hours. The total number of deaths has reached 259 as of Wednesday. The total number of cases reached 5,661.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez signed an executive order on Wednesday to extend the closure of tribal offices until July 5. Although the weekend curfews were paused, the daily curfews remain from 8 pm until 5 pm.

Grassroots Navajo organizations and individuals continue to try and reach the Dine' elderly and disabled who are in quarantine with the virus. Still, many Dine' are being sent home from the hospitals with the coronavirus and have no way to get food or water. Many have pneumonia and are too weak to go out for supplies. None of the Dine' elderly who are sick and in quarantine contacted by Censored News have received food or water supplies at their homes from the Navajo Nation government officials or tribal workers.

Still, the work of Dine' helping Dine' continues. Mercury Bitsuie is one of the Dine' delivering food and water to Dine'.

Bitsuie said, "Was able to deliver more food to my relatives out in Big Mountain, was a long, beautiful drive until I forgot about the curfew and had to race off the reservation. All gas stations were closed and ran out of gas about five or six miles north from the I 40/US87 junction near Winslow. Had to hitchhike it a little but was able to get some gas again."

"I'm still burnt out from walking last night, but knowing that elders have some food for the weekend, I had to admit that it was a beautiful night," Bitsuie said.

(Below) Navajo Nation report of coronavirus cases on June 2, 2020.

There are 300,000 Navajos, with about 200,000 living in the Navajo Nation, in the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Meanwhile, the State of Arizona reported a sharp increase in coronavirus cases this week, with the largest number in the Phoenix and Tucson areas. The group most likely to get the coronavirus in Arizona are aged 20 to 44 years old and white. Those most likely to die from the virus in Arizona are over 65 and white, according to the State of Arizona data.

There were eight deaths of the elderly in northwest New Mexico reported in the past 24 hours in New Mexico. There were five deaths in McKinley County and three in San Juan County, the State of New Mexico reported. McKinley County includes Gallup, portions of eastern Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo. San Juan County includes the Shiprock and Farmington regions.

The Navajo Nation received $600 million in federal virus relief funds on May 6. However, those have not been allocated or distributed by the tribal government.

Navajo President: Plan for $600 million

President Nez outlined the plan on Wednesday, of the comprehensive expenditure plan for the $600 million received from the federal CARES Act.

"The $600 million should be directed to help the Navajo people by providing for improved health care, water, power, and telecommunications infrastructure, agriculture, small businesses and enterprises, elderly care needs, first responders, educational needs, and scholarships for students entering the healthcare and public safety fields. The plan further outlines the immediate needs to keep our Navajo families, communities, and economy safe and secured," President Nez said.

The comprehensive expenditure plan outlines the immediate expenditure of $50.5 million for PPEs, care packages for COVID-19 families, hazard pay for Navajo Nation essential employees, deep sanitation of Navajo government offices, reconfiguration of offices, telework-capable computer systems for employees, and assistance to P.L. 93-638 healthcare facilities. Other expenditures include $300 million for water and agriculture projects, $100 million for powerline and solar infrastructure, $50 million for broadband/telecommunication, $50 for healthcare and public safety scholarships, $40 million for Navajo businesses, and $10 million for housing needs on the Navajo Nation.

President Nez urged support Legislation No. 0116-20, sponsored by Council Delegate Edmund Yazzie and co-sponsors, to immediately address the safety of employees by providing adequate personal protection equipment, deep sanitation of government offices, and hazard pay for essential employees.

“Support for the legislation can help Navajo Nation employees to provide direct services to our citizens, including elders and individuals with underlying health conditions. It supports the first stage of reopening the Navajo Nation, which would be implemented in phases supported by healthcare professional analysis and expertise. Most of all, we need to ensure that our employees feel safe to return back to work,” said President Nez.

To submit supporting comments for Legislation No. 0116-20 e-mail: and

Preliminary reports from 10 health care facilities indicate that approximately 2,029 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, with more reports still pending. 

Navajo Nation cases by Service Unit:

Chinle Service Unit: 1,458
Crownpoint Service Unit: 546
Ft. Defiance Service Unit: 301
Gallup Service Unit: 949
Kayenta Service Unit: 855
Shiprock Service Unit: 936
Tuba City Service Unit: 471
Winslow Service Unit: 114
*31 residences are not specific enough to place them accurately in a Service Unit

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