Navajo Nation extends stay-home order to halt coronavirus spread

(Megan Marples | Cronkite News) The sun rises over the Navajo Nation Reservation on Sept. 24, 2020, near Pinon, Ariz. The COVID-19 death rate on the reservation, the size of West Virginia, has been greater than that of any U.S. state.

Window Rock, Ariz. • Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has extended a stay-at-home order through Dec. 28 to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The Navajo Nation has had some of the most restrictive measures aimed at COVID-19 anywhere in the country, and most of those have been in place since March. They include a mask mandate. Essential businesses are required to limit their hours to between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. through this weekend.

Starting Monday, business hours will be extended to between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays. They must close on weekends the rest of the month.

Residents are required to stay home unless they must report to work, or need to get food, medication or essential supplies.

[Read more: Navajo homes getting electricity with CARES Act funding]

Nez has urged residents not to leave the reservation or to gather with families, which officials have said contributed to uncontrolled spread in most Navajo communities.

Medical professionals have pleaded with residents to stay home as the rising number of COVID-19 cases from the virus’ fall surge across the nation tests health care capacities on the reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The tribe reported 168 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday and two more deaths. That brings the total to 17,495 positive cases and 665 known deaths.