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Navajo Nation Increases COVID-19 Precautions Amid Nationwide Surge

AP, file

The Navajo Nation has returned to a higher level of COVID-19 precaution amid a renewed spike in cases in many U.S. states. Tribal health officials this week issued three emergency orders tightening safety measures in schools and limiting in-person gatherings. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

In April the tribe loosened many restrictions as vaccination levels rose and confirmed COVID infections declined. But this week with social and family gatherings driving new cases on the reservation, the Navajo Health Department ordered a return to orange status, limiting social gatherings, ceremonies, church services and other events to 15 people.

One order also encourages virtual learning for children 12 and under who aren’t yet eligible for a COVID vaccine along with several other measures in Navajo schools. A 50% capacity limit remains in place for casinos, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. The new orders go into effect Monday.

Officials haven’t returned to the curfews and lockdowns seen throughout much of the pandemic, but a reservation-wide mask mandate remains in effect.

An estimated 70% of Navajo Nation residents are fully vaccinated, well above the national average of about 59% of eligible Americans.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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