Navajo leader urges residents to stay home ahead of lockdown

(Courtesy of the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President) Screen grab of Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez speaking at a town hall event on Tuesday.

Window Rock, Ariz. • Officials on the Navajo Nation are urging residents to refrain from traveling off the reservation ahead of a weekend lockdown meant to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“Think of your parents and grandparents, chances are they are more susceptible to getting the virus, so let’s keep our guard up,” tribal President Jonathan Nez said Thursday.

The tribe reported 79 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, the highest daily total in more than two weeks. Nez attributed it to the July 4 weekend and said it's concerning.

The total number of people who have been infected is 8,486, the tribe said. More than 6,200 recovered. An additional two deaths reported Thursday brought the toll to 407.

[Watch: ‘Trib Talk’: Coronavirus hot spots and testing issues in Utah]

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

The lockdown on the Navajo Nation is scheduled to begin around sundown Friday and end early Monday. The tribe also has daily, nighttime curfews. Residents on the reservation that stretches into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah are required to wear masks.