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Navajo Nation Has 3rd Coronavirus Case; Tribe Shuts Casinos, Tourist Areas

Jonathan Nez
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Jonathan Nez

The Navajo Nation announced late Wednesday that another member has tested positive for coronavirus bring the tribe's total to three. The three members are from Chilchinbeto. The Navajo Health Command Operations Center is considering issuing a shelter-in-place order for that community. 

The first patient is a 46-year-oldand officials said the second patient is a middle-age man from the same region. Both patients had recent travel history.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and other leaders held a Facebook Live press conference Wednesday to answer members' questions. Both patients are recovering in a Phoenix hospital and are in stable condition, said Del Yazzie with the Navajo Epidemiology Center. 

Nez has issued an executive order to close the reservation to visitors. He says the tribe already has closed its tourist destinations and casinos.

"Of course we can’t put roadblocks throughout the Navajo Nation, but we ask our visitors just to respect the Nation here in this uncertain times," Nez said. "And it's not just closing our doors to visitors. If there's a bigger spread of the virus, we don't want people taking it off the Nation. Containment is important here." 

Nez said the Navajo Nation Council will hold a special session to consider appropriating money to its Emergency Operation Center, first responders and health care providers. The Navajo Agricultural Products Industry has already donated $1 million to help the Navajo Nation combat the spread of coronavirus.

→  Read The Latest News On The Coronavirus Disease 

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story and headline have been updated to reflect the increase in coronavirus cases on the Navajo Nation.

Rocio Hernandez was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2022.