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Uncontrolled COVID-19 spread in 34 Navajo Nation communities

November 11, 2020 GMT

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials on Wednesday warned residents of the “uncontrolled spread” of COVID-19 in 34 communities on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

“We are dealing with an invisible monster and the only way we are going to beat this virus is by doing it together and listening to our public health experts,” tribal President Jonathan Nez said in a statement. “Our health care system will be overwhelmed and in a crisis situation if we keep seeing increases in new cases.”

The Navajo Nation will have a 56-hour weekend curfew beginning Friday night.

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Tribal officials already have urged residents to wear face masks, practice social distancing and limit gatherings to less than five people.

They reported 79 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and one additional death, bringing the total number of known cases to 12,720 with 595 known deaths.

Nearly 134,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and about 7,800 have recovered, according to tribal health officials.

The reservation spans more than 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers).