Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
The Navajo Nation will end its weekend-long curfews, President Jonathan Nez announced Wednesday. But the reservation will extend the closure of its executive branch offices to July 5.
“We are extending the closure … so that we can clean up the buildings, get our employees tested, and get them back into a safe working environment, and also get them the personal protection equipment that they will need,” Nez said during a video update Wednesday.
The Navajo government will also reconfigure office spaces for social distancing.
The reservation has had 57-hour weekend curfews for two months to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Businesses were closed, and residents were told to only leave their homes for emergencies.
Nez said the weekend-long curfews could return if the reservation sees another spike in COVID-19 cases. New public health orders will provide guidance for events like religious gatherings and graduations.
A daily curfew on the reservation will remain in place from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The reservation has tested more than 36,000 people, nearly 18% of the population, according to Navajo Department of Health data cited by Nez. Of those people, 5,533 had tested positive as of Tuesday night. The Navajo Nation reports that 252 people have died from COVID-19, and 1,960 people have recovered.
Navajo Area Indian Health Service hospitals on the reservation may have reached their peak of COVID-19 admissions and ICU patients in late April.
“We all are in this fight together … let’s keep up our vigilance in this fight. Please do not let up,” Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer said. “Although our curve has flattened, we are still averaging a high number of infections.”
Speaking about nationwide protests against police brutality and racial inequality, Nez said that Navajo leaders advocate for equality “every time we speak.”
“We’ve been protesting to the federal government during the duration of COVID-19 that we Navajo people, that we 574 tribes throughout the country, should be equal to every citizen throughout this country,” Nez said. “… People who protect us should honor that sacred, sacred duty. … The treaty that was put in place, the federal government should honor that sacred obligation.”