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Navajo Nation brings back curfew as AZ virus cases rise

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Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez gives a COVID-19 update on Tuesday, June 16. (Screenshot from Facebook)

The Navajo Nation will reinstate a 57-hour curfew this weekend and next weekend, President Jonathan Nez said Tuesday.

“We’re pleading with everybody to not let up,” Nez said during a video update. “Continue to wear your mask, continue to social distance.”

The reservation reported 22 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths on Monday night. It was the smallest increase in cases since early April.

More than 6,600 people on the reservation have tested positive for COVID-19 and 311 have died from the disease, according to the Navajo Department of Health, Navajo Epidemiology Center and Navajo Area Indian Health Service.

About 21% of the reservation’s population has been tested for COVID-19. More than 3,000 people have recovered.

Nez said his administration is reinstating the curfews in part because of rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Arizona.

Arizona reported a record-high 2,392 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, according to Arizona Department of Health Services data. Arizona’s hospitalizations, ICU bed use and ventilator use for COVID-19 patients all hit record highs on Monday. The Navajo Nation president encouraged tourists not to travel through the reservation, where masks are required and a daily curfew is in place from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

“Now is not the time to be traveling all over the Southwest,” Nez said. “…Yes, the numbers are flattening out, yes, the numbers are going down, but it took only one person to bring the bug into the Navajo Nation and it spread like wildfire.”

The reservation had eight weekend curfews before lifting restrictions in early June.

Nez said the Navajo Nation government received an additional $86 million in CARES Act funds this week.

In early May, the U.S. Treasury Department distributed about $600 million to the Navajo government. This week, a federal judge ordered the Treasury to release the remainder of the coronavirus relief money intended for tribes, the Associated Press reports.

The Navajo Nation Council is currently considering legislation outlining a spending plan for the federal money.

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