The president of the Navajo Nation is working to stop the spread of coronavirus on reservation land.
The number of coronavirus cases on the Navajo Nation has reached 426, as of Tuesday evening, according to an update from Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.
In his update, Nez noted that seventeen deaths related to the disease have occurred on tribal land.
According to Nez, 310 cases within the reservation’s land were found in Arizona, while 109 were in New Mexico and seven in Utah.
As a result of the increasing numbers, officials are working to increase social restrictions and strengthen infrastructure to curb the spread.
Earlier this week, Nez extended Navajo Nation’s curfew times, which means residents are required to stay home unless for an emergency. A nighttime curfew is already in place, but a new 57-hour weekend curfew will begin Friday at 8 p.m. and last through 5 a.m. Monday.
Nez has also asked for more federal funding to help set up field hospitals and acquire more protective medical equipment, which many states across the nation are also lacking. Additionally, he announced last weekend that he is in talks with the University of Arizona to send out medical professionals to areas of the reservation in need.
Six Members of Navajo School Fall Ill
While Gov. Doug Ducey shut down all schools in Arizona, at least one on the Navajo Nation remained open.
The Arizona Republic reported that the Rocky Ridge Boarding School was in operation March 16, the day Ducey’s closures went into effect. However, because the school is run by the Bureau of Indian Education, it did not have to comply.
While Rocky Ridge did stop bringing in students the following day, some staff members still reported to work throughout that week. In the following weeks, at least six people – four students and two employees – became sick with what seemed like COVID-19, according to the Navajo Times. A teacher at the school died March 27, but it is unknown if it was related to the coronavirus.
According to the Republic, all Bureau of Indian Education schools are now closed until further notice.
Man Arrested for Threatening Navajo Community
A man in Page was arrested Sunday for allegedly attempting to incite an act of terrorism after he made a Facebook post threatening the Navajo community.
According to the Page Police Department, 34-year-old Daniel Franzen’s post was “threatening in nature” and stated that “all ‘Navajo’ are infected with COVID-19.”
“The Page Police Department recognizes the alarming nature of this incident and shares the justified concern this behavior has caused the Navajo community, and others,” the department wrote on Facebook. “The police department wishes to remind community members that unlawful hate speech, especially that which singles out protected classes (race, religion, gender, etc.), will be aggressively investigated and violations will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”
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