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Public health emergency orders on Navajo Nation for COVID-19

August 13, 2021 GMT

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials say the tribe will return to “Orange Status” starting Monday due to a recent rise of COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday, the Navajo Department of Health issued three new public health emergency orders for businesses and schools while revising in-person gathering limits for certain events.

The tribe’s mask mandate remains in effect, but there is no daily curfew or lockdown on the reservation that is the country’s largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The 50% maximum occupancy level remains in place for restaurants (including indoor dining, drive-thru, curbside and outdoor dining) plus tribal casinos, hotels, campgrounds and RV parks.

“The difference between this time last year and the uprise in cases we are seeing now is that we have a high percentage of our people vaccinated and our public health experts have provided us with the guidance to reduce the spread of the virus,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.

Health officials reported no deaths and only a handful of cases for eight consecutive days from Aug. 1-8.

But on Monday, the Navajo Department of Health issued a health advisory notice for 19 communities due to uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus.

The tribe reported 39 new COVID-19 cases and no additional deaths on Thursday after having 49 new cases and two deaths reported Wednesday.

The latest numbers pushed the totals to 31,754 cases on the reservation since the pandemic began more than a year ago with 1,386 known deaths.