Navajo Nation coronavirus cases jump 17 percent Saturday

An Arizona National Guard helicopter takes off to deliver medical supplies to the remote Navajo Nation town of Kayenta, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Phoenix. Several dozen guardsmen have been dispatched to the hard-hit reservation to build a temporary hospital and resupply clinics. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Associated Press

Quicker test results will likely result in even higher numbers of positive cases, but it will help the Navajo Nation to mitigate the cases much quicker

The number of coronavirus cases on the nation's largest Native American reservation jumped by 17 percent Saturday as the Navajo Nation prepared to get new rapid-test kits. 

The Navajo Nation said in a statement that the number of cases  rose to 698 Saturday, up 101 from the day before. So far, a total of 24 people have died from complications of COVID-19. 

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer said they have been told that Abbott ID rapid test kits will become available at Navajo Area IHS facilities and tribal health care centers in the next few days. The tests come out with results within several minutes, they said. 

"Quicker test results will likely result in even higher numbers of positive cases, but it will help to identify those who have the virus and begin to mitigate the cases much quicker. We must do better," Nez said. 

Nez and Lizer announced Thursday during a town hall that they are quarantining themselves as a precaution after being in close proximity with a first responder who later tested positive. They say they donned masks and gloves while visiting communities and are following protocols to isolate.

The total number of positive tests for COVID-19 is now at 698, according to the Navajo Department of Health and Navajo Area Indian Health Service, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center. The report also indicates that there is now a total of 2,760 negative test results as of Saturday. There is now a total of 24 confirmed deaths related to COVID-19.

The Navajo Nation’s 57-hour curfew took effect on Friday at 8:00 p.m. and continues until Monday at 5:00 a.m., with the exception of essential employees who are required to have documentation from their employer. Navajo Police will strictly enforce the curfew order by issuing citations that may include a fine up to $1,000 and up to 30 days in jail.