WHITERIVER — The White Mountain Apache Tribe implemented a 72-hour shelter-in-place lockdown on Dec. 4. after 40 new COVID-19 cases were diagnosed over a three-day period.

After 77 new cases occurred in a five-day period, the Tribe’s closure was extended through Saturday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. and then a 2-week shelter-in-place order begins and runs through Dec. 26 at 8 p.m.

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This lockdown and shelter-in-place order effectively closes the reservation from Dec. 4 until after Christmas.

According to a press release, during the lockdown all residents of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation are required to stay home within their residence, at all times and take every possible precaution to limit social interactions which may transmit COVID-19. Individuals may leave their homes or places of residence only in the following circumstance:

(1) Traveling to or from work with proof of employment; and

(2) obtaining or seeking medical care.

All Tribal departments that have been deemed “essential” during this time will continue to operate without interruption. These include the departments that are open over the weekend per their normal operations. All precautionary measures mandated by the Tribe since March remain in place, including, but not limited to, the following: the requirement that masks be worn at all times in public, a curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., restrictions to churches gatherings/traditional ceremonies, funeral and burial restrictions.

The White Mountain Apache Tribal Council continues to advise the public to take every precautionary measure, including the following:

• Avoiding contact with people who are sick;

• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth;

• Washing hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol, especially:

• After using any bathroom;

• Before eating; and

• After coughing, sneezing, wiping eyes or mouth, or blowing nose;

• Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces;

• Maintaining social distancing;

• Stay home when sick, unless seeking medical attention; and

• Covering coughs or sneezes.

Bashas’ will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. only for Elders (65 and older) with up to one person to assist them. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bashas’ is open to the public and from 5 to 7 p.m. it will be open only to first responders, Indian Health Services and frontline workers.

The Apache Station and Cibecue gas stations are open on essential days including Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. for fuel only.

Wood cutting and hunting are allowed only on essential days. Parents are allowed to pick up and drop off students who attend classes off the reservation. These students are highly encourage to receive COVID-19 tests at IHS.

On reservation schools are already on remote learning.

Funerals will be allowed with a 2-hours time limit and are limited to 10 people, not including clergy, funeral staff and pallbearers.

For more information, contact White Mountain Apache Tribal Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood, LeAnn Mallow or Brenda Paxson at (928) 338-1704, EOC Headquarters.

Likewise the Navajo Nation have extended their emergency declaration which closes the Nation’s government through Dec. 27. This extended the stay-at-home lockdown which requires all residents to remain at home 24-hours, seven days a week, with the exception of essential workers.

The total number of positive cases was reported at 17,915 on Dec. 6, with 177 new cases reported that day.

The Navajo Nation Division of Social Services, Department of Self Reliance and the Navajo Family Assistance Services department are considered essential services and will remain open.

Reach the Editor at jheadley@wmicentral.com

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