Navajo Nation issues Public Health Emergency Order requiring protective masks to be worn in public

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — On Friday, the Navajo Department of Health issued Public Health Emergency Order 2020-007, requiring all individuals on the Navajo Nation to wear protective masks in public to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19. 

During online town hall sessions this week, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez informed the public that the written order would be issued. He also encouraged all residents of the Navajo Nation to either purchase or make masks to comply with the order. 

“Even before the Center for Disease Control and Prevention officially recommended using masks in public, we were encouraging our Navajo people to wear masks and gloves and now we’re putting it in writing. Some may not like it, but with the number of positive COVID-19 cases increasing, we have to be proactive in addressing the pandemic. We will continue to consider even more aggressive requirements to help bring the numbers down. Some individuals think we’re using scare tactics or extreme measures, but we are losing lives here on the Navajo Nation and I’m going to do everything I can to help save lives. We are on a mission to flatten the curve,” said President Nez. 

The Public Health Emergency Order defines a mask as a covering designed to filter one’s breathing through both the nose and mouth. A mask must snugly cover the face around the nose and mouth to prevent the wearer from breathing unfiltered air.  May be a commercially-made face mask, or a homemade cloth face covering.

“Since the pandemic began, we are seeing more and more people wearing masks and protective gloves in public and that’s a good sign that people are listening to the health care experts. We aren’t the health experts, but as leaders, we are using our voices to get the word out so that our people are aware of the precautionary measures they can take to protect themselves. Wearing a mask doesn’t guarantee that a person won’t contract COVID-19 – we continue to strongly recommend that everyone stay home as much as possible,” stated Vice President Myron Lizer.

The Navajo Nation’s 57-hour weekend curfew is currently in effect until Monday, April 20 at 5:00 a.m. (MDT). The Navajo Police Department is enforcing the weekend curfew with road checkpoints. They will also issue citations for curfew violators, which may include up to $1,000 in fines and/or 30 days in jail. 

The requirement for wearing a mask in public will remain in effect until otherwise ended by a subsequent Public Health Emergency Order. For more information about protective masks, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

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