WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation has reported 16 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths.

The latest numbers released Saturday night brought the pandemic totals on the tribe’s reservation to 30,255 cases and 1,262 known deaths.

Tribal officials had ordered a weekend lockdown over fears that a new variant could drive another deadly surge.

The Stay-At-Home order required all Navajo Nation residents to refrain from unnecessary travel to help limit the spread of the virus, including a new and more contagious strain.

On Friday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez vetoed a resolution to reopen tribal roads on the Navajo reservation to tourists and other visitors amid the continuing pandemic.

Nez said in a statement that he vetoed the resolution approved March 31 by the Navajo Nation Council because COVID-19 variants are spreading in the region and because more people need to be vaccinated “to move closer to herd immunity and this will take time."

“I understand that people want to travel and visit our sites here on the Navajo Nation, but we have to prioritize the health and well-being of our people,” Nez added.

The closure does not affect state highways that pass through the reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Also last week, Nez announced the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 B.1.429 variant on the reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The variant was first identified in the state of California and has since been detected across the southwest U.S.

So far, nearly 16,500 people on the Navajo Nation have recovered from COVID-19.

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