NEZ FED UP WITH PEOPLE NOT STAYING HOME.
Navajo Nation residents to be under strictest lockdown yet
By FELICIA FONSECA
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Residents of the Navajo Nation will be under the strictest weekend lockdown yet, with grocery stores and gas stations closed, and even essential workers ordered to stay home.
Navajo President Jonathan Nez made the announcement after a spike in deaths that he attributed to shifting traffic patterns after the city of Gallup recently shut down to outside visitors. That lockdown in northwestern New Mexico has since ended.
On the Navajo Nation, residents will face citations, with potential fines and jail time, if they leave their homes during the lockdown, which starts Friday night and ends Monday around dawn. Nez urged people to listen and not pack their bags to head out of town during the lockdown.
“Stay home, that’s the bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with staying home and taking care of your home, taking care of your family members,” a frustrated Nez said Thursday. “We need to be able to recognize that what you do affects everybody.”
While the state of Arizona has loosened its restrictions on residents and businesses, the Navajo Nation has clamped down. The tribe already has daily nighttime curfews and requires people to wear masks when out in public. Government offices are closed or have limited services. The tribe’s stay-at-home order has been extended to June 7, while Arizona’s expired Friday.
As of Friday, the tribe reported 127 deaths and 3,740 positive coronavirus cases since it first began tracking the figures. More than 500 people have recovered, tribal health officials said. There were no new deaths reported on Friday.
Loretta Christensen, the chief medical officer for the Navajo-area Indian Health Service, said the reservation’s three largest hospitals hit capacity last week — in line with expected predictions — and a significant number of patients were transferred off the reservation.
“We’re still getting cases across the area, but not at the velocity we did before,” she said in a call with reporters Thursday.