WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Residents on the Navajo Nation will be under another lockdown this weekend as the tribe seeks to keep the coronavirus from spreading even further into communities.
The lockdown is the fourth the tribe has implemented. It comes around the first of the month when tribal members often travel to towns bordering the reservation to shop for food and other supplies.
Tribal officials say they are working with businesses on the reservation to create safeguards for Navajo elders, such as extending shopping hours exclusively for them and others who are at high risk for contracting the coronavirus.
Anyone who doesn't need to leave their homes for food, medicine or in the case of an emergency is being told to stay home.
“We don’t want to see any more lives lost, and we don’t want to see our Diné people sick," Vice President Myron Lizer said. "It's sad and it's devastating for many families.”
The weekend lockdown starts Friday at 8 p.m. MDT and ends Monday at 5 a.m. MDT.
As of Tuesday, the tribe's health officials reported 1,873 positive cases of COVID-19 and 60 deaths. The 27,000 square-mile (70,000 square-kilometer) reservation stretches into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
McKinley County in New Mexico and Apache and Navajo counties in Arizona each have more than 430 cases reported from the Navajo reservation.
Tribal President Jonathan Nez said Wednesday that an alternative care site in Shiprock, New Mexico, that will take in people who need to isolate from their families is complete. Others are in the works in Chinle, Arizona, and just outside the reservation in Gallup, New Mexico.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.