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The Navajo Department of Health issued three orders on Apr. 5 to loosen COVID-19 restrictions, as the number of new infections continues declining on the Navajo Nation. 

“We are seeing consistent low numbers of daily COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation, thanks to our Navajo people and our frontline warriors,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a press release. “We are taking careful steps to reopen, and we will continue to rely on the public-health experts to guide us along the way.”

The first of the three public-health emergency orders moves the Navajo Nation’s COVID-reopening color code for businesses from “orange status,” moderate-high restrictions, to “yellow status,” moderate-low restrictions, the second-lowest of the code’s five levels. The move increases the maximum permitted occupancy for restaurants, casinos, hotels, movie theaters, and most other businesses to 75 percent of capacity. Gyms, wellness centers, and recreation facilities are allowed to operate at 25 percent of capacity, depending on six-foot social distancing requirements. 

The second order re-emphasizes the “safer at home” order and raises the number of people allowed at in-person gatherings from 15 to 25. Up to 50 people are permitted at outdoor recreational events, and up to 100 vehicles are permitted at drive-in gatherings. Masks must be worn at all in-person gatherings.

The third order declares “yellow status” for all schools. All students, teachers, and employees must continue to wear face masks. Gatherings other than classroom instruction are limited to 25 people. Sports events are limited to 50 percent of capacity indoors and 75 percent outdoors.    

“As we move forward in this pandemic, we continue to offer our appreciation and prayers for all frontline workers and those who are fighting COVID-19 at this moment,” Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer said. “We ask our people to carefully read the new public-health emergency orders and help to inform your elders and loved ones.”

As of Apr. 5, there had been 53,089 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Navajo Nation residents, with 1,737 deaths. The number of new cases reported had fallen from more than 400 a day in January, at the peak of the Omicron variant, to less than 10 a day. According to the Department of Health, 66.5 percent of residents had been vaccinated, with 44.4 percent up to date on boosters.

The new public health emergency orders can be found online at https://www.ndoh.navajo-nsn.gov/COVID-19

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The Native News Health Desk is made possible by a generous grant from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation as well as sponsorship support from the American Dental Association. This grant funding and sponsorship support have no effect on editorial consideration in Native News Online. 
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Author: Kelsey TurnerEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Kelsey Turner is a contributing writer for Native News Online and a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.