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Navajo Nation extends government closure

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A July 22 graphic shows the trend of new COVID-19 cases in the Four Corners region. States surrounding the Navajo Nation are trending poorly or have uncontrolled spread of the virus, according to data reported by those states. (Source: Navajo Department Of Health)

The Navajo Nation has extended the closure of government offices and businesses as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the Southwest.

The original closure order, set to expire July 27, has been extended until Aug. 16.

New case numbers on the Navajo Nation have trended downward for the past week, but residents and visitors should not become complacent about following public health orders, said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

“Over 60% of those who have passed on are over 60 years old, and the data shows that the elderly are most vulnerable to this virus,” Nez said during a video update Thursday. “We need to protect our elders. They hold information, valuable information of our way of life, our culture, our language, tradition.”

Vice President Myron Lizer said case data from surrounding states would help inform the reopening of Navajo schools and nonessential businesses. New Mexico schools will operate with online classes until at least after Labor Day.

“A lot of our children don’t have access to the internet, so what does that (process) look like?” Lizer said.

A news release from the Office of the Navajo Nation President said the tribal government is developing a public health order that would require residents to self-isolate for 14 days after returning to the reservation from a virus hot spot.

Masks are mandatory in public on the Navajo Nation.

A daily curfew is in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., and the reservation will be under a 57-hour lockdown this weekend and next.

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