Navajo officials distribute masks and sanitizers in Shiprock

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials have distributed masks and hand sanitizers in the community of Shiprock, New Mexico to help keep local residents safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile Saturday, tribal health officials reported 330 new cases and four more deaths on the vast reservation that covers 27,000 square miles and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

On Friday, the tribe had reported 500 new cases and one death.

The latest numbers pushed the tribe’s totals since the pandemic began to 47,959 cases with 1,607 known deaths.

“Our elders, our grandparents, always tell us that the safest place to be is at home and that remains true during this pandemic,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said Saturday in a statement. “Our elders also have the highest vaccination rate among any age group on the Navajo Nation.

“With over 87% of elders vaccinated for COVID-19, they are leading the way and setting a great example. Take precautions, wear two masks in public, get your booster shot, and limit travel as much as possible as this surge continues,” Nez added.

Nez recently issued an executive order mandating all employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination booster shot by Monday.