Navajo Nation residents urged to stay the course, keep the coronavirus curve flat

Window Rock, Ariz. • Health officials with the Navajo Nation have reported 125 new cases of coronavirus and five new related deaths on the reservation.

The death toll is approaching 300 and reservation-wide cases totaled 6,275 as of Wednesday.

Tribal officials also said preliminary reports from 11 health care facilities indicate nearly 3,000 people have recovered from COVID-19 with more reports pending.

The vast Navajo reservation stretches into northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southeastern Utah.

Navajo officials are cautioning tribal members about dropping their guard too soon while the pandemic remains a serious threat throughout the U.S. In Arizona, health care officials are reporting spikes in new cases and hospitals have been told to prepare for the worst.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that the health care system on the Navajo Nation can't afford a second wave of infections, noting it already has been strained since the first cases were reported in mid-March.

'We have to continue making good decisions by staying home as much as possible, wearing protective masks in public, washing our hands often, practicing social distancing, and all of the good practices that have helped to flatten the curve in our communities," he said. “Now is not the time to start traveling off the (Navajo) Nation. It only takes a few people to travel off the Nation and spread the virus in our communities once again.”

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community reported Thursday the first death of a tribal member living on the reservation in metropolitan Phoenix.

“The state of Arizona and businesses have opened, but the virus is still among us,” said tribal President Martin Harvier.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.