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Navajo Nation leaders self-quarantine after coronavirus exposure

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, left, and Vice President Myron Lizer went into self-quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus. (Facebook Photo/Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer)

PHOENIX – The top two officials of Navajo Nation, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, are self-quarantined after being near somebody who later tested positive for COVID-19, the tribe announced Thursday.

President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer said they are feeling fine and will continue working remotely.

Nez delivered the news during an online town hall update, calling the self-quarantine “a precautionary measure” after potential exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 occurred Tuesday.

“While meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Arizona National Guard, we came into contact with several first responders, one of whom later tested positive for the virus,” Nez said in a press release.

“I’ve been informed that the officials with the Army Corps and National Guard are also self-quarantining to be on the safe side and are doing fine.”

Nez and Lizer were wearing gloves and masks during the interaction, as they always do during community visits, the tribe said.

During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Arizona Gov. Ducey pledged the state’s support to the tribe after speaking to Nez and Lizer earlier in the day.

“The state of Arizona is committed to the Navajo Nation, and we will provide all the state and federal resources they need to fight COVIDS-19 and to protect their residents,” Ducey said.

“National Guard personnel will remain on site in Tuba City. They will continue to quickly deliver PPE supplies and support the nation.”

During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Arizona Gov. Ducey pledged support to the tribe after speaking to Nez and Lizer earlier in the day.

“The state of Arizona is committed to the Navajo Nation, and we will provide all the state and federal resources they need to fight COVID-19 and to protect their residents,” Ducey said.

“National Guard personnel will remain on site in Tuba City. They will continue to quickly deliver PPE supplies and support the nation.”

On Thursday, Navajo Nation reported its coronavirus case total had climbed to 558, including 405 in Arizona, and 22 deaths.

The tribe also announced it was instituting a “57-hour curfew” that will run from 8 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday, during which only essential workers with documentation from their employers are allowed out.

“If you need groceries, medication, or other necessary items we urge you to take every precaution and please only send one family member to purchase items – do not take children into stores or public places,” Lizer said in a press release.

The curfew will be enforced by Navajo police, with violators subject to penalties of fines up to $1,000 and/or 30 days in jail.

While most tribe members will be staying in their homes for the Easter holiday, leaders proclaimed Friday through Monday as “Navajo Nation Family Prayer Weekend.”

“As we approach the 57-hour weekend curfew, we ask all of our Diné people to join us in prayer for the victims of the virus and their families, and the health of our communities,” Nez said in a press release.

Nez declared a public health emergency for Navajo Nation on March 11, when the tribe with territory in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah hadn’t yet reported its first coronavirus case.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

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