As of Saturday, there were 698 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 24 deaths, among members of the Navajo Nation living in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer said in a news release.
Both Nez and Lizer are in self-quarantine, Nez announced Thursday, after coming in contact with a first responder who later tested positive for the virus.
"You may be young and in good health, but this virus can infect anyone," Nez said. "This is not to be taken lightly."
Curfew in place
A public health order banning members of the Navajo Nation from leaving their homes except for emergencies or to go to work as essential employees went into effect at 8 p.m. on Friday and will continue until 5 a.m. Monday.
The weekend order is in addition to a curfew that already mandates that members stay in their homes from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. daily.
Those who need to go to work must have official identification or a letter on company letterhead with employer contact information for verification in order to travel, a public health order issued by the Navajo Nation said.
Law enforcement officials will issue citations and fines -- $1000 and/or 30 days in jail -- to anyone who violates the stay at home order or curfew, even if they are not members of the nation, Navajo Police Chief Phillip B. Francisco said earlier this month according to a news release.
Tourists and visitors have been banned from entering Navajo Nation territory unless they are delivering necessary supplies.
On April 3, Nez and Lizer signed a law extending travel restrictions issued in a public health order on March 20 preventing people who aren't members from coming onto the land.
"No offense to tourists and visitors, we are doing this for the health and protection of everyone," Lizer said in a release.
"To be very clear, the restrictions do not apply to truck drivers and essential businesses that deliver essential products to the Navajo Nation," Lizer said.
A need for supplies
The Navajo Nation has been receiving essential deliveries from the Arizona National Guard to treat those already infected and to continue to test its population.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in a tweet that he was in contact with the tribe about its needs.
"Our tribal communities remain top of mind: I've been in touch with Navajo President Nez & Vice President Lizer about the need for supplies, personnel and ventilators," Ducey said in a tweet. "Arizona is committed to assisting ALL our tribes as they fight."
On Saturday, Nez and Lizer said in a news release that a coronavirus test that can provide results in less than 15 minutes will soon be available at Navajo area Indian Health Service facilities and tribal operated health care centers.
Tests currently take two to four days to process, Nez and Lizer said in the news release.
"Quicker test results will likely result in even higher numbers of positive cases, but it will help to identify those who have the virus and begin to mitigate the cases much quicker," Nez said. "We must do better."
Other tribes are dealing with the pandemic
The Navajo Nat