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Navajo Nation Extends Lockdown Due To "Dire" Surge Of Coronavirus

The Navajo Nation implemented a three-week extension on current coronavirus lockdown measures to curtail a severe second surge of the outbreak
The Navajo Nation implemented a three-week extension on current coronavirus lockdown measures to curtail a severe second surge of the outbreak

Citing an "uncontrolled spread" of coronavirus across 75 of its communities, the Navajo Nation expanded its current lockdown by three weeks in an attempt to clamp down on the spread of the virus.

The order, a continuation of the Nov. 16 mandate, remains in place from Monday until Dec. 28. The government previously ordered a lockdown for the nation of over 170,000 between March and August.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez warned in a statement Sunday the situation is severe.

He said, "We are near a point where our health care providers are going to have to make very difficult decisions in terms of providing medical treatment to COVID-19 patients with very limited resources such as hospital beds, oxygen resources, medical personnel, and little to no options to transport patients to other regional hospitals because they are also near full capacity."

Nez warned that this second wave is "much more dire and much more severe" than the first outbreaks in April and May.

The order requires residents to stay home with an exception for essential workers. Nonessential businesses remain shut and roads are closed to visitors. Residents are also urged not to meet with anyone outside of their households. The reservation is also implementing strict weekend lockdowns from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m.

The Navajo Nation Department of Health has reported a total of 17,915 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Dec. 6, within the community which spreads across parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The current cluster of cases is a "direct result of family gatherings and off-Reservation travel," according to Sunday's order.

The order comes as cases of coronavirus are increasing across the U.S. Just last week the country surpassed a new daily record of more than 100,000 coronavirus hospitalizations and more than 2,700 deaths from the disease it causes, COVID-19.

The Navajo Nation continues to have some of the highest infection rates compared to other states. In May, it had the highest per-capita infection rate in the U.S.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.