COVID-19

NAVAJO COUNTY — Creeping silently, the impacts of the coronavirus continue to grow and spread across the White Mountain region.

Over the weekend, the virus claimed a life in Navajo County.

There have been two confirmed deaths from COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation Reservation. Now, for the first time a resident of Navajo County from outside of the Navajo Nation Reservation has died from the virus.

In a press release issued Sunday, the Navajo County Public Health Services District (NCPHSD) confirmed that ”the individual who passed away was in their 60s with underlying health conditions. No additional information will be provided out of respect to the family and privacy laws. NCPHSD is in the process of notifying close contacts of these persons and is asking them to monitor for symptoms. If you are not contacted by public health, your risk of exposure to these cases are minimal.”

“We express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends grieving their loved one during this difficult time,” said Jeff Lee NCPHSD Director. “COVID-19 is a serious disease that can be fatal. We expect to see more cases of COVID-19 in Navajo County, and there could be more deaths. It is imperative that everyone takes precautions to protect yourself and your family from this disease, ” the press release stated.

The press release stated that additional cases of the virus in Navajo County have been confirmed outside of the Navajo Nation Reservation, although it did not specify how many or where the cases were located.

The total number of cases in Navajo County Monday were 88 and 17 in Apache County. Numbers continue an alarming climb across Arizona, reaching 1,157 cases on Monday, with deaths reaching 20. Last week, Dr. Cara Christ, head of the Arizona Department of Health Services said all Arizonans should consider that the virus is “widespread” and circulating in all communities.

Over the weekend, President Trump extended social distancing guidelines through the end of April. Earlier comments he had made concerning re-opening businesses in some areas of the country by Easter, Vice President Mike Pence called “aspirational,” according to CNBC.

“The president expressed, really, an aspirational goal,” Mr. Pence said on CNBC. “The president said he would love to see it around Easter.”

Governor makes stay-at-home, order, extends school closures

Gov. Doug Ducey has resisted calling for a statewide shelter-in-place order, but apparently changed his mind on Monday afternoon, and issued an order to "Stay home, stay healthy, stay connected," just before 3 p.m. On Monday, the governor also extended statewide school closures through April 30

According to the New York Times, 26 states have issued such orders, requiring people to stay home and only leave the house for necessities such as groceries, medical appointments and to step outside for fresh air. Thirteen states have orders in portions of the state — usually large cities or metropolitan counties. About 7 in 10 Americans are now living under these orders in an unprecedented effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Arizona was one of only nine states that has no requirements to shelter in place.

Locally, the Navajo Nation has a shelter-in-place order and a curfew that begins today, ordering residents to stay at home from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. President Jonathan Nez has also placed strict rules for social distancing on businesses that remain open, such as limiting the number of customers in the store.

One case now confirmed by Whiteriver Indian Health Service

Whiteriver Indian Health Service confirmed one positive case on Sunday, within their extended service area, according to a post on their Facebook page. The White Mountain Apache Tribe has also instituted a curfew, of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and closed public areas such as playgrounds and recreation areas in their forests. 

No cases confirmed at Summit

Summit Healthcare in Show Low confirmed last week that they have conducted tests on some individuals, but have not reported any positive results thus far. Some test results have taken a week to come back from labs, they said. There are no confirmed cases at Summit Healthcare, according to their text messaging service.

Will testing expand?

While at least one healthcare provider, North Country Healthcare, has promised to bring expanded testing for COVID-19 to the area, they offered no timeline as to when the drive-thru testing clinics they proposed would open.

Shortly after North Country made that announcement, Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, advised healthcare providers that widespread testing isn’t feasible due the lack of medical and testing supplies. She advised healthcare providers to simply treat all patients with symptoms as though they were infected. The state also has a critical shortage of the gear doctors and nurses need to even administer a test.

“Keep working with your commercial vendors for testing, but do not depend on having test results for your management,” she said in guidelines to doctors. “There is no specific treatment or manage strategy and results should not change clinical management.”

Reach the editor at

tbalcom@wmicentral.com

(15) comments

TheOriginalAmerican

Its not "Within the White Mountain Apache Tribe" its "Within the Whiteriver IHS extended service range" which means other places off the reservation of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

libertyminded

We should impeach Trump again for his not taking this seriously at the start of this when he was briefed in January and again in February when he "had it totally under control. His denial and delay will cost us all dearly.

libertyminded

On Feb. 27, Trump said during a speech at the White House that the coronavirus was "going to disappear. One day – it's like a miracle, it will disappear." He then said, "you know, it could get worse before it gets better. It could maybe go away. We'll see what happens."

Jason Paul

My wife works at a local hospital. Turnaround time is quite long on testing. This has been going on for many weeks. How do we bring pressure on the right state or local officials to get the necessary equipment and get these tests done quickly. This is critical to avoid serious outbreaks and providing proper care.

Jordan

He might have took it more serious if you all weren't so busy trying to impeach him in January. This isn't a time to criticize people, it's a time to support each other and stick together. There is no way, no matter how he responded that it would have been a whole lot different. Suck it up and deal with it.

libertyminded

That is just silly Jordan. Stick your head in the sand and spread Trumps Impeachment excuse. Trump has screwed up horribly and Trump should be fired and removed.

Gandolf

Are you kidding me? The only thing he takes serious is how much money he can pilfer from the taxpayers. Suck it up buttercup doesn't work anymore. He's a danger to our democracy and economy.

RetiredMaverick

Amen

sensible

Jordan!! Impeached tRump said all this was a hoax remember? Also stop blaming people who don't trust the man who would be emperor! he is useless!

libertyminded

[thumbup]

Jordan

You know what's hilarious. All you people saying this is Trump's fault. You are the same people that say that he can't do anything right and now he can supposedly single handedly prevent a major pandemic. Just remember a heck of a lot more people died from H1N1 under Obama when he did nothing for six months, but oh yeah he can never do anything wrong. Just keep watching Trump's approval ratings go up. Alright, now you can reply back with all your whining and excuses.

pancakesarescarytrustme

I'm pretty sure no one in this thread made the statement [in reference to President Obama] "oh yeah he can never do anything wrong". You also falsely stated that more people died from H1N1 than COVID-19. A simple cursory search online before you tapped post comment would have easily brought up the number of sine flu deaths reached a total of 3433... We are currently at 14,865 deaths for COVID-19, and will assuredly be higher by the time WMI allows this comment to be seen. Both of theses "arguments" are not only false but show a simple basic willingness to spread disinformation and I'm surprised by the lack of moderation and the huge amount of leeway these types of comments receive.

libertyminded

It was over 2 months since the first Covid-19 case was identified in the U.S. and, today April 2, when the U.S. led the world in cases. More cases than India, China, Russia or EU. Also, today, the great "leader" Trump finally invoked the Defense Production Act to get more Ventilators. Thank You, "great leader" that has it all "under control" for your delay and denial Trump.

Jordan

Gandolf don't give me that, our economy was the best it's been ever before a natural pandemic screwed it up and you know it. You just have it made up in your head that you can't give Trump any credit for anything because you don't like him, its pitiful. How many Republicans complained when Obama was president? We didn't like him either but we didn't whine and complain about it, grow up man.

pancakesarescarytrustme

First of all, the economy is not the stock market. Large multi-national corporations and financial institutions gaining a larger piece of the pie for their investors and not for the people that actually "made" the money for them is an unfortunate side affect of our current state and not something to cheer about. Moreover, these companies seeing the opening door in terms of lack of oversight points to literally just that and not at one political administration... These companies depend on people like you to be a megaphone for this. They depend on you to vote in the type of person that would would forgo the health and well being of their constituency to up their portfolios and quarterly reports. Now, as far as Republicans not complaining about President Obama... That, again, is an incredible falsehood. From baseless claims like Obama destroying race relations to he was a Muslim born in Kenya and everything in between show the unbridled, tactless hysteria booming from every right leaning media organization on the globe. Which then gets filtered through and regurgitated by every so called patriot that seems to find their home on this mountain.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.