Billboard on Navajo Nation (Courtesy photo)

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer were informed on Wednesday evening by the Navajo Department of Health that a third member of the Navajo Nation tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Navajo Nation citizen who had symptoms of COVID-19 went to Kayenta Health Center and then transferred to Phoenix hospital. Courtesy Photo

The third individual is a 62-year-old male from the same region as the first two confirmed cases within the Kayenta IHS Service Area.

The third individual reported his symptoms to the Kayenta Health Center and was transported to a hospital in Phoenix where he remains as of Wednesday. Health and emergency officials are taking the proper precautions to screen and isolate the person’s family members. Officials are in the process of determining the extent of the relation of the cases.

The first two cases reported on Tuesday, involved a 46-year-old woman and a 40-year-old man who were also transported to hospitals in the Phoenix area.

“The responsibility is upon all of us as individuals to help keep each other safe and healthy by practicing social distancing and self-isolation – staying home is key to preventing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The Navajo Nation COVID-19 Preparedness Team is making progress in securing resources and funding from various entities to help our people – we are working hard each day to help our people. Please continue to pray for these individuals, their families, and all of the people of our Nation,” said President Nez.

The Navajo Health Command Operations Center is considering issuing a shelter-in-place order for the community of Chilchinbeto, which would require residents to remain in their home due to the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, President Nez and Vice President Lizer issued notice of enhanced travel restrictions, encouraging all citizens not to travel unless travel is necessary to obtain essential items such as groceries, medication, emergencies, medical appointments, and livestock care. The notice also urges all citizens to stay home for a period of at least 15-days.

A Public Health Emergency Order was also issued requiring restaurants to operate at no greater than 50 percent of maximum occupancy and no greater than 50 percent of seating capacity. In addition, tables and booths may not seat more than six people, and all occupied tables and booths must be separated by at least six-feet, limiting employees to “essential staff,” and displaying prevention and awareness signage for patrons.

The notice also limits fast-food businesses to drive-thru services, suspends all flea markets and indoor/outdoor markets, and prohibits gatherings of 10 or more with exemptions for retail or grocery stores, and hospitals, among others. They also initiated efforts to minimize travel to and from the Navajo Nation. Billboards on the Navajo Nation also began displaying information encouraging the public to self-isolate.

“We are not closing off roads, but we are asking all visitors to respect the sovereignty of the Navajo Nation and adhere to the travel restrictions to protect the health of all people,” stated President Nez.

President Nez and Vice President Lizer continue to advocate to members of Congress to secure more federal funding and to gain support for efforts of our emergency operations and the health care professionals. They spoke with U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) to push for funding to help fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“If you look at the overall numbers, we also have a large amount of people who are recovering around the world from this virus. We have to remember that we are resilient and that we will overcome and get through this pandemic,” added Vice President Lizer.

“We are truly grateful to all of the men and women who are on the frontlines – the Health Command Operations Center officials, health care workers, emergency personnel, doctors, nurses, and all first responders for working hard to protect the Navajo people. Please pray for all of these individuals as well,” added President Nez.

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