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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is growing rapidly on three New Mexico pueblos, creating a "dire situation" according to the Pueblo of San Felipe's Governor. (Courtesy photo).

SAN FELIPE PUEBLO — Three pueblos in New Mexico have become COVID-19 pandemic hotspots in Indian Country this week. 

On Thursday, Pueblo of San Felipe Governor Anthony Ortiz described the situation on his pueblo as “dire within our community with positive COVID-19 cases” which are rising daily. As of yesterday, Ortiz said there were 54 positive cases on the Pueblo.

The Pueblo of San Felipe is 33 miles northeast of Albuquerque, N.M. The Pueblo of San Felipe consists of approximately 3,700 enrolled tribal members and approximately 68,000 acres.

“I cannot stress enough that everyone must adhere to the stay at home order that I issued recently. Stay at home order means to stay within the house that you currently live in. It does not mean it is ok to visit other relatives or friends residing in other homes,” Ortiz wrote on the pueblo’s website on Thursday.

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) told KOAT Action News 7, an Albuquerque ABC affiliate, there were a few activities on the San Felipe pueblo where one infected person spread the virus around.

Haaland say while traditional and religious ceremonies are important, tribal citizens need to maintain proper social distancing.

"Some people might think we can still go to these gatherings, we can go to these activities, but that's how this thing gets spread,” Haaland said.

"Indian tribes were behind the eight ball with respect to the infrastructure, the health care, all of those things that we need, and then on top of it we have a pandemic," Haaland continued.

Two other pueblos that have been hit hard with coronavirus cases. The Pueblo of Zuni with 24 confirmed cases and one reported death; the other is the Zia Pueblo with 31 confirmed cases.

All three pueblos have implemented curfews for its residents.

On Wednesday, the Pueblo of Poroaque’s Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder, in Pojoaque, N.M., just north of Santa Fe began to offer rooms to serve as a temporary quarantine facility for New Mexico tribal citizens waiting for COVID-19 test results.

The largest hotspot in Indian Country is on the Navajo Nation where, as of Thursday night, there were 558 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths related to the deadly virus. 

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