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Navajo Nation coronavirus cases exceed 1,000 with 41 confirmed deaths

Chelsea Curtis
Arizona Republic
Navajo Nation tribal member Chris Long, 32, and his girlfriend Shannon Monroe, 30, from Birdsprings came to shop at Walmart in Winslow, Ariz. The tribal community has been struck by the new coronavirus pandemic.

The Navajo Nation passed a grim milestone Thursday with confirmation that the number of known new coronavirus cases exceeded 1,000 with 41 confirmed deaths.

The number of total positive tests increased by 121 cases — approximately 13% — from the 1,042 reported the day before. There was also an additional three deaths over the last 24 hours. 

Of the Navajo Nation's 1,042 identified cases, 652 involved tribal members living in Arizona. The Navajo Nation has more than 250,000 members and spans over 27,000 miles across three states — northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southern Utah.

For contrast, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported 4,234 confirmed cases and 150 known deaths statewide Thursday. 

It's unclear how many of the deaths are in Arizona. However, the 1,042 confirmed positive cases include the following counties:

  • Navajo County, AZ: 306
  • Apache County, AZ: 147
  • Coconino County, AZ: 199
  • McKinley County, NM: 203
  • San Juan County, NM: 140
  • Cibola County, NM: 13
  • San Juan County, UT: 12
  • Socorro County, NM: 10
  • Sandoval County, NM: 12

Native Americans make up 16% of those who have died from COVID-19 in Arizona, among the cases for which race and ethnicity are known, according to data released by the Arizona Department of Health Services. The American Community Survey's 5-year estimates show about 4.6% of Arizonans are American Indian or Alaska Native.

Preventative restrictions to remain in place as death count rises

The Navajo Nation announced the 57-hour weekend curfews will continue for the two remaining weekends of April. The curfew requires residents to stay home and some essential businesses to close in an attempt to curb further spread of the new coronavirus. 

"Now is the time to prepare for the weekend curfew," said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez in a statement included in the press release. "If you have everything you need, stay home. If you need groceries, medication, or other essential items, send one person to the store or where ever they need to go and please use masks and protective gloves and wash or sanitize your hands as much as possible."

The press release noted that another order would be issued in the coming days requiring Navajo Nation residents who enter a public facility to wear a protective mask and gloves to mitigate spread of the virus. 

The tribe's nightly curfew for resident will remain in effect until further notice, requiring residents to stay home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. every day.

Reach the reporter at chelsea.curtis@arizonarepublic.com or follow her on Twitter @curtis_chels

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