August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, November 16, 2020

Navajo Nation issues three week lockdown order, schools closed, Nov. 16, 2020




Mercury Bitsuie, and his Uncle Andy Dann, have raised their own funds and deliver food, water, and supplies to Navajos in their home communities, including homes in remote Black Mesa. They are now cutting firewood for fellow Dine'. Donate to Dine Land and Water. https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/dinelandnwater


Navajo volunteer, Bitahnii Wilson raised funds and delivers new water barrels and water to fellow Navajos in need, along with supplies to neighbors in Hopi, Apache and Zuni lands. Donate to K'eh Relief.  https://www.gofundme.com/f/din039e-navajo-water-for-elders-and-families

Navajo volunteers deliver food and water to fellow Dine', as federal virus funds have not reached those most in need

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
brendanorrell@gmail.com

The Navajo Nation issued a lockdown order beginning today, Nov. 16 which continues for three weeks, until Dec. 6. All schools will be shut down and all tribal offices closed, except for essential employees. A red status has been issued for all businesses.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez said, "On Friday, the Navajo Nation finalized two public health emergency orders and one executive order that will go into effect on Monday, Nov. 16 for a three-week period."

"The new measures reinstate a stay-at-home lockdown order for the entire Nation, close Executive Branch government offices with the exception of essential employees, call for all schools on the Navajo Nation to close temporarily, and declares 'red status' for all businesses requiring new safety measures as COVID-19 cases continue to rise rapidly," President Nez said. (See full statement below.)

On Sunday, the Navajo Nation said there were 117 new cases and four more deaths. Now, 602 Navajos have died from the virus. More than 5,400 Navajos have the virus and have not recovered.

The lockdown order comes as cases soar in the Southwest and hospitals are near capacity. Navajos in the 110 chapters in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah are pleading for help.

Although the Navajo Nation government received $714 million in federal CARES Act funds five months ago, it has not been distributed to Navajos in desperate need. The Navajo Nation government system has no system of uniform delivery of food and water to the homes of the sick, or those in quarantine, and no widespread visiting home health care for the dying.

Navajo volunteers, who use their own funds and raise funds, are reaching as many as they can with water, food and supplies.

One message on the Navajo Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Facebook page says a Navajo woman who is pregnant and has coronavirus is sleeping on the floor without a mattress. Although she has received food from the volunteers, she still needs a mattress.

Southwest in crisis

New Mexico has started shutting down businesses due to the virus spread. In the Navajo bordertown of Farmington, two WalMarts have virus outbreaks.

Throughout New Mexico -- from Albuquerque and Santa Fe to Las Cruces -- grocery stores, big-box stores, and fast food stores have virus outbreaks. Even police departments and city offices have outbreaks. Current New Mexico Watchlist.

In Arizona, two teachers have died from the virus in the Phoenix Valley. Ash Friederich, 40, of Tolleson High School died after battling COVID-19, the district said in a statement. Madison School District educator Nawai Kalai died after testing positive for COVID-19, KTAR reports.

In Utah, the governor has ordered a new mask mandate. The State of Colorado issued a list of grocery stores, schools and gatherings where there are current virus outbreaks.

Navajo Nation to implement more public health measures on Monday as health experts recommend online learning and advise against reopening casinos

By Navajo President Jonathan Nez

Navajo Nation to implement more public health measures on Monday as health experts recommend online learning and advise against reopening casinos

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – On Friday, the Navajo Nation finalized two public health emergency orders and one executive order that will go into effect on Monday, Nov. 16 for a three-week period.

The new measures reinstate a stay-at-home lockdown order for the entire Nation, close Executive Branch government offices with the exception of essential employees, call for all schools on the Navajo Nation to close temporarily, and declares “red status” for all businesses requiring new safety measures as COVID-19 cases continue to rise rapidly. 

On Friday, Navajo Nation reported 97 new cases of COVID-19 while the state of New Mexico reported 1,237 new cases, Arizona reported 3,015 new cases, and Utah reported 2,150. The United States reported a single-day record-high of over 150,000 new COVID-19 cases as well.

“With nearly 900 new cases of COVID-19 reported on the Navajo Nation in the last week and with surging cases across the country, we have to implement these public health measures to protect our Navajo people and reduce the spread of this virus.

In addition, our epidemiologists recently identified 34 communities with uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. We are inching closer and closer to a major public health crisis in which we could potentially see our hospitals filling up with patients.

Our health care system on the Navajo Nation cannot sustain a long-term surge in COVID-19 cases. The safest place to be is at home here on the Navajo Nation,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

Executive Order No. 010-20 requires government offices and enterprises to close beginning Nov. 16 thru Dec. 6, with the exception of essential employees as determined by division directors and enterprise management, to maintain essential services and functions of government.

President Nez noted that all CARES Act projects and processes are required to proceed without disruption or setbacks to meet upcoming deadlines. 

The order also requires public schools, including state public schools, grant schools, private schools, higher education institutions, early childhood programs including CCDF, Head Start, FACE programs, and all after school programs on the Navajo Nation to be online from Nov. 16 to Dec. 6, to protect students, teachers, parents, and others from COVID-19 risks. To view Executive Order No. 010-20, please visit: https://www.opvp.navajo-nsn.gov/From-the.../Executive-Orders.

Public Health Emergency Order No. 2020-30 implements a three-week stay-at-home lockdown order and restricts travel off of the Navajo Nation and in-person gatherings. 

Individuals may leave their place of residence only for emergencies or to perform essential activities such as obtaining food or groceries, obtaining medicine, gathering fire wood with appropriate permit, and others. 

Only essential businesses will be allowed to operate during the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (MST) daily – weekdays and weekends.

All essential businesses including gas stations, grocery stores, laundromats, and restaurants and food establishments are required to ensure employees and customers wear masks, practice social distancing, disinfect high-touch surfaces, access to hand wash stations, sanitizers and gloves, and limit the number of customers in any enclosed areas. Restaurants and food establishments must operate on a curbside or drive-thru basis only. 

All places of business and governmental offices are encouraged to report employee exposures to the Navajo Health Command Operations Center at: https://www.ndoh.navajo-nsn.gov/covid-19.

“In order to reduce cases, we have to isolate the virus. The more people move about and travel, the more cases of COVID-19 we will see. The data from our public health officials indicates that we are near the peak of new cases that we experienced in April and May. We brought down the number of cases before, and we can do it again with safe practices and prayer,” said Vice President Lizer. 

“The daily increase of new COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation mirrors the United States upward trajectory and dangerously approaches our record-high cases in early May. The Navajo Healthcare System isn’t overwhelmed now, but further bed capacity with adequate medical staffing are a concern.

Isolation and quarantine sites are available for the Navajo people, please seek these services to further reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Safe isolation is important especially if this can’t be done at home. We all have a role to play to protect ourselves and our relatives,” said Navajo Department of Health Executive Director Dr. Jill Jim. 

After several recent discussions with public health officials regarding the surge in COVID-19 cases, President Nez vetoed a resolution that requested support for the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise’s reopening plan for casinos at a minimum of 50-percent capacity.

President Nez said he recognizes and understands the economic impacts and remains committed to finding additional alternative funds to support businesses and enterprises. In August, the Navajo Nation approved $24.6 million in CARES Act funds to avoid lay-offs of gaming employees.

“We cannot put a price tag on the health, safety, and lives of our Navajo people. Revenues do not outweigh the precious lives of our elders, children, and gaming employees. We recently learned that the enterprise did experience a positive case in their gaming facility, so how safe will our elders and visitors be when we cannot predict the spread of the coronavirus?

To the gaming employees, board members, and their families, we ask for your patience and understanding due to the significant rise in COVID-19 cases and we are willing to find a way to provide additional support,” added President Nez.

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