Number of coronavirus cases rises 17% on Navajo reservation

The Navajo Nation band during the 2011 Veteran's Day Holiday march towards the Capital in Window Rock, AZ.
Posted at 8:05 AM, Apr 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-12 08:05:24-04

The number of coronavirus cases on the nation's largest Native American reservation jumped by 17% Saturday as the Navajo Nation prepared to get new rapid-test kits.

The Navajo Nation said in a statement that the number of cases on the 27,000-square-mile (70,000-square-kilometer) reservation that sprawls across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah rose to 698 Saturday, up 101 from the day before. So far, a total of 24 people have died from complications of COVID-19.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer said they have been told that Abbott ID rapid test kits will become available at Navajo Area IHS facilities and tribal health care centers in the next few days. The tests come out with results within several minutes, they said.

"Quicker test results will likely result in even higher numbers of positive cases, but it will help to identify those who have the virus and begin to mitigate the cases much quicker. We must do better," Nez said.

Nez and Lizer announced Thursday during a town hall that they are quarantining themselves as a precaution after being in close proximity with a first responder who later tested positive. They say they donned masks and gloves while visiting communities and are following protocols to isolate.