Navajo Nation now has 1,282 coronavirus cases and 49 deaths

(Zak Podmore | Tribune file photo) The Utah Navajo Health System and the Utah Department of Health’s Utah Public Health Laboratory conducted over 1,300 drive-thru tests in southern San Juan County in mid-April. A series of free tests last week brought lots of residents and the count of news cases more than doubled over the weekend.

Window Rock, Ariz. • The Navajo Nation is extending the closure of the tribal government until mid-May because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Tribal President Jonathan Nez said the tribe must remain vigilant to try to save as many lives as possible.

“We're not letting our guard down, now is not the time,” he said in a statement this week.

A previous executive order declaring an emergency, restricting travel and closing government offices was set to expire Sunday. It now expires May 17.

The tribe has instituted daily nighttime curfews and weekend lockdowns to keep people from traveling on the vast reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The tribe has reported 1,282 positive COVID-19 cases and 49 known deaths as of Wednesday, by far the most of any Native American tribe in the country. That's an increase of 76 new cases and one more death since Tuesday's report.

Those figures don’t include cases in towns that border the reservation and previously were included in the Navajo Nation's total.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Nez was on hand as two semi-trucks arrived in the tribal capital of Window Rock to deliver more than 2,500 bottles of water to help first responders and health care workers on the reservation.

Nez had been under a 14-day self-quarantine until Tuesday after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.