Harsher restrictions coming back to Navajo Nation as COVID cases rise

Coronavirus New Mexico

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 49 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths. The latest numbers pushed the tribe’s pandemic totals to 31,715 cases and 1,386 known deaths.

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

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

The health department plans to issue a new public health emergency order this week to transition the Navajo Nation back to “Orange Status” due to the recent rise in coronavirus infections.

“The details are being worked out, including capacity levels for businesses,” tribal President Jonathan Nez said in a statement. “Based on contact tracing, it does not appear that new infections are occurring in businesses but rather through in-person social and family gatherings where masks and other safety protocols are not followed. We are seeing cluster cases in a few communities… We have to do better and we have to remain diligent.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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