With COVID-19 cases rising, Navajo Nation switches to ‘Orange Status’

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WINDOW ROCK, AZ – The Navajo Nation is seeing a spike in cases, leading to new public health emergency orders.

The Navajo Nation was the hardest hit area by COVID-19. As the Nation slowly recovers, there is still concern.

"We transitioned back to Orange Status because of the alarming increases in cases all around the Navajo Nation once again. You see the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Nevada becoming concerned with their daily case count and so are we," said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

Orange Status means all businesses must operate at 50% capacity, and the mask mandate is still in effect.

"The government does recommend and put some of these protocols in place but i think the responsibility is on our citizens to follow through on these protocols to keep themselves safe, their families safe and we are not closing our borders down so also keeping our visitors safe,” said Nez.

More than 70% of eligible Navajo Nation residents are fully vaccinated. Nez said that’s the difference between last year and now.

"I think this time around what’s different is that we are better prepared, including the shots that were given to help keep the case counts low,” he said.

Nez also said there is still concern for children going back to school this fall, especially those who are not vaccinated.

Many schools in the nation are offering a hybrid option, making the case counts lower, but the concern is still high.

Now Nation leaders said they hope these new public health orders can help mitigate the spread.