Published March 20, 2020
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The number of known positive cases of the COVID-19 across Navajo Nation rose to 14 on Thursday, as tribal officials issued an emergency shelter-in-place order for the Chilchinbeto community to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The update on the growing number of cases of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, was reported in a news release from Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer late Thursday night.
The majority of the 14 cases involve individuals who initially reported their symptoms to the Kayenta IHS Service Unit, according to the news release. Others were either reported to or treated at Chinle Health Care Facility and Northern Navajo Medical Center. Health and emergency officials are taking precautions to screen and isolate their family members and others.
The Navajo Health Command Operations Center and Navajo Area Indian Health Service are in the process of determining if and how the cases relate.
“We are awaiting more details on the cases,” Nez said. “We understand that the public has many questions and we ask that the public be patient until the facts are gathered – we do not want to report any misinformation. Everyone must remain home at this point and let the health care and emergency experts do their jobs. Please be respectful and adhere to their directions as they are doing their best to protect our communities.”
On Thursday, the Navajo Health Command Operations Center issued a Public Health Emergency Order requiring closure of the Chilchinbeto community for quarantine and isolation, also known as “shelter-in-place,” to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The order requires residents to remain in their homes to slow the spread of the virus.
Nez stated that the order may also be applied to the entire Navajo Nation if reports become widespread.
Similar to other places in the United States, enhanced travel restrictions are also in place, urging all citizens not to travel unless travel is necessary to obtain essential items such as groceries, medication, emergencies, medical appointments, and livestock care. The notice also urges all citizens to stay home for a period of at least 15 days.
To contain the virus, a Public Health Emergency Order was issued on Wednesday, requiring restaurants to operate at no greater than 50 percent of maximum occupancy and no greater than 50 percent of seating capacity.
In addition, tables and booths may not seat more than six people, and all occupied tables and booths must be separated by at least six feet, limiting employees to “essential staff,” and displaying prevention and awareness signage for patrons.
The notice also limits fast-food businesses to drive-thru services, suspends all flea markets and indoor/outdoor markets, and prohibits social gatherings of 10 or more persons with exemptions for retail or grocery stores, and hospitals, among others.
Questions from the public may be directed to the Navajo Health Command Operations Center at (928) 871-7014. For questions from members of the Chilchinbeto community, please call (928) 871-6271.
If a person has symptoms related to the COVID-19 coronavirus, please contact your local health care center prior to your arrival to a hospital facility:
Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility
Crownpoint Health Care Facility
Fort Defiance Indian Hospital Board, INC
Gallup Indian Medical Center
Kayenta Health Center
Northern Navajo Medical Center
Tuba City Regional Health Care
Utah Navajo Health System
Winslow Indian Health Care Center
Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center
New Mexico Coronavirus Hotline