Navajo Nation orders protective masks worn on reservation

The Navajo Nation says the average death of the more than 40 people who have died from coronavirus on the reservation is 66

The Navajo Nation has been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other Native American tribe.

The tribe and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service said the number of positive coronavirus tests reached 1,197 as of Saturday. The average age of the 44 people whose deaths are attributed to COVID-19 is 66.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said all residents should either buy or make masks to comply with the order.

Nez said in a statement Friday night announcing the order that tribal officials would consider even more aggressive requirements to curb the coronavirus.

“Some individuals think we’re using scare tactics or extreme measures, but we are losing lives here on the Navajo Nation, and I’m going to do everything I can to help save lives,” Nez said.

Residents of the Navajo Nation, including non-tribal members, are under a daily nighttime curfew. Lockdowns for the next two weekends will prevent them from leaving their homes, except in the case of an emergency, from dusk Friday until early Monday.

Navajo police are enforcing the curfews and lockdowns by issuing citations that can carry a fine of up to $1,000 and 30 days in jail. Essential workers are not subject to the restrictions.