WHITE MOUNTAINS — As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb on the Navajo Nation Reservation and the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the number of cases appears to be stable in other White Mountain communities.
But that could be deceptive, because very few people across the two counties have been tested for the virus.
Plus, counts for the number of cases from different sources don’t always add up, making it unclear just how many total cases there are.
As of Thursday, Navajo County was reporting 77 cases outside of reservation lands in the county, and the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) is reporting 410 for the county.
The Navajo Nation said that they have 288 cases on reservation lands in Navajo County.
There are at least 10 cases in the Winslow area, according to AZDHS zip code data.
Other areas in the county appear to have a minimal number of cases. According to the zip code database developed by AZDHS, Pinetop, Lakeside, Show Low and Snowflake all have 1 to 5 cases. Heber-Overgaard has zero.
But only 1,539 people in Navajo County have been tested.
In Apache County, AZDHS is reporting 118 cases in the county, with 1,101 people tested. But the Navajo Nation is reporting 121 cases on reservation lands in Apache County.
Apache County Health Director Preston Raban is reporting just one case outside of the Navajo Nation Reservation in the southern portion of the county, in Eagar.
No cases have been reported in Vernon, Concho, St. Johns, Springerville or Alpine.
Navajo Nation Reservation
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez continues to urge people to stay home, after a 57-hour curfew last weekend. Still the number of cases continues to spiral upward, with 921 cases across the sprawling reservation, which includes portions of Utah, New Mexico and Navajo, Apache and Coconino counties in Arizona. A total of 83 new cases were reported on Wednesday alone.
President Nez worried that the stimulus checks that some residents were starting to receive were drawing people out to go shopping.
“We truly thank many of those who are abiding by the stay-at-home order and the daily curfew, but it’s very disheartening to receive reports of many people going out into the public … to border towns – most due to the federal stimulus funds that our people are beginning to receive. We are close to finalizing another public health order to implement 57-hour curfew for the remaining weekends for the month of April,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez on Facebook.
White Mountain Apache Tribe
On Wednesday, the White Mountain Apache Tribe was reporting a total of 32 cases, up 12 from Tuesday.
Tribal Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood was also concerned about gatherings on the reservation that have the potential to spread the disease, including funerals.
“As the leader of our people, I am charged with the duty of protecting the health, safety and welfare of our people … such as the invisible coronavirus pandemic, that threaten our livelihood and our loved ones. The Tribal Council saw the speed in which the pandemic has been sweeping through the Navajo Nation and we did not want the same thing to happen here. This is why the Tribal Council adopted the social distance restrictions that have been proving to work in other states and countries,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
Statewide, social distancing does appear to be bringing the total number of cases down. In the daily case counts posted by AZDHS, there were 189 new cases statewide on April 10, but only 73 on April 11 and 81 on April 13.