WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Tribal police and the New Mexico National Guard are ready to enforce a weekend curfew underway on the Navajo Nation as officials on the sprawling reservation continue to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 370 people.
The curfew that started at 8 p.m. Friday and expires at 5 a.m. Monday is the first of three consecutive weekend lockdowns on the reservation that spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, Tribal President Jonathan Nez said. He warned that enforcement will be strict and include checkpoints in communities across the nation.
"The majority of Navajo residents comply with the weekend lockdowns, but there are a handful of residents who do not comply and continue to travel off the Nation and put themselves and others at risk of contracting the coronavirus," Nez said in a statement.
The vast reservation has been trying to stop a major virus outbreak for weeks. The tribe on Friday reported 64 new cases for the Navajo Nation and two more deaths. A total of 7,733 people on the nation have tested positive, and 375 have died.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Tribal Vice President Myron Lizer said the Navajo people have done a "great job" in slowing the spread of the virus and urged people to stay home over the July 4 holiday weekend to keep up that momentum.
"Holidays are about spending time with your families, so let's stay home and spend quality time with our parents, grandparents, and others and please do so safely," Lizer said.