MESCALERO, N.M. (KRQE) – While most areas in New Mexico are slowly opening back up. The Mescalero Apache Tribe has declared a state of emergency and is ordering a shut down for two weeks to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“In order to protect our people we have to do this,” said Mescalero Apache Tribal President Gabe Aguilar. The city of Mescalero and the Mescalero Apache Tribe decided to take action and ordered a 24/7 lockdown for the next two weeks.

While they only have four positive tests, they are to get results back for 600 more tests. Aguilar said the reason for the lockdown is because they may be facing a potential outbreak.

“Our tribe has been hit by this virus. We are now in it were in the fight. We have elders fighting for their lives, we have young ones that are fighting for their lives,” said Aguilar.

The order will lift Sunday, June 7 at midnight, until then all residents are to remain inside unless they need to go to a grocery store. The city has seen what has happened on other Native American lands, like the Navajo Nation, and wants to take every precaution.

The president says social distancing has not worked and something more drastic needs to be done. “This is for the protection of our people, our people are the most important thing in our lives, our elders are the most important thing in our lives, let’s do our part,” Aguilar said.

The Tribe has blocked entrances to Mescalero land off Highway 70 but Highway 70 itself is not blocked. The tribal president says they tested over 800 people on Saturday and are working with tribal health personnel and the state health department to get more people tested.

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