As states across the country are reopening, the Navajo Nation is entering a strict 57-hour lockdown in another attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. The tribe's death toll reached 149 on Friday as the virus continues to disproportionately affect people of color in the U.S.
The Navajo Department of Health in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service reported 95 new COVID-19 cases of COVID-19 for the tribe on Friday. The total number of positive cases has surpassed 4,500, pushing the tribe's healthcare system past its capacity.
The Navajo Nation, a territory that is in portions of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, has the most coronavirus infections per capita in the country, according to its president.
"The Navajo Nation is testing our citizens at a very high rate per capita, more so than any state in the country," Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement Friday night. "Over 14% of the people living on the Navajo Nation have been tested and that's why we have a high number of positive cases. We're doing our best to flatten the curve, so let's think of the health and safety of others and stay home this weekend. Stay home, stay safe, save lives."
According to Nez, the tribe has tested over 27,000 people.
The Nation's seventh 57-hour lockdown took effect at 8 p.m. on Friday and goes through Monday at 5 a.m. It includes the closure of all businesses "to deter traveling and keep people home and safe."
During the lockdown, all residents must remain at home. There are exceptions for some essential workers, first responders and health care officials, but the majority of people are required to stay inside.
Even businesses considered essential, including stores, gas stations, restaurants, drive-thru food establishments and hay vendors, must also remain closed and cease all operations.
57-hour lockdowns have been implemented before – for several weekends in both April and May, according to officials.
"Please protect yourselves and your loved ones and please hold each other accountable when it comes to staying home and complying with the weekend lockdown," said Navajo Nation vice president Myron Lizer. "Please pray for all of those who are sick, fighting for their lives, and for the families who have lost loved ones."
Navajo Nation officials delivered food, water, clothing, protective masks and other essentials to over 580 families ahead of the lockdown. People who disobey the curfew will be stopped by officials and could be fined up to $1,000.