Navajo resumes weekend lockdowns as Arizona virus cases rise

June 17, 2020 GMT

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation is resuming lockdowns for at least the next two weekends as the number of coronavirus cases off the reservation increases, most notably in Arizona.

Tribal President Jonathan Nez made the announcement Tuesday in a virtual town hall. He cited Arizona, which hit an alarmingly high new daily number of cases with nearly 2,400 — almost double the previous record, in urging people to stay home. Businesses will be closed during the weekend lockdown.

During its peak, the Navajo Nation sent the sickest patients from the reservation to larger hospitals in Arizona and New Mexico. That might not be an option if hospitals in Arizona become overwhelmed with patients, Nez said.


“A second surge, a worse surge, may put a lot of pressure back on our health care system and our health care workers,” Nez said.

Residents on the Navajo Nation are still under daily nighttime curfews. It has been a couple of weeks since they were required to stay home throughout the weekend, from sundown Friday to sunrise Monday. Tribal police have been citing people for violating the lockdown.

Masks also must be worn in public on the reservation. Tribal government offices remain closed to the public.

Late Tuesday, the tribe reported 39 new cases of COVID-19, and eight more deaths. The total number of cases reported was 6,672 with 319 deaths. Health officials said nearly half of those who tested positive have recovered.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.