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By Darren Thompson, Special to Native News Online

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Overnight, the Navajo Nation had its first reported death from the COVID-19 virus, Native News Online has learned.

The tribal citizen who passed away was also the first person on Navajo Nation who had tested positive for COVID-19, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus.  A family member of the deceased confirmed his death to Native News Online on Friday afternoon.

The individual, who passed away in Phoenix earlier today, was a 46-year-old tribal citizen from the community of Chilchinbeto, Ariz. As reported earlier this week, the individual had recently traveled outside the Navajo Nation. The individual first reported having coronavirus symptoms to the Kayenta Health Center in Kayenta, Ariz. and was then transferred to a hospital in Phoenix. The Arizona Department of Health later confirmed the positive test result. Members of the individual’s family were also screened and isolated.

There are seven others in the deceased individual’s family who have tested positive for COVID-19.

As of yesterday, the Navajo Health Command Operations Center of Chilchinbeto issued a shelter-in-place order, requiring residents to remain in their home due to the spread of the virus. The family member who spoke to Native News Online said that the entire family is deeply concerned because traditional ceremonial burial practices require people to gather. The family member said they will not be attending the burial services because they are quarantined as well.

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About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected]