COVID-19 in Arizona: Navajo Nation cancels July 4 celebrations, ends weekend curfew

PHOENIX – Navajo leaders on Wednesday canceled this year’s Fourth of July celebrations in Window Rock as the tribe continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Jonathan Nez announced the cancellation Wednesday during a Facebook Live town hall in which he also lifted the 57-hour weekend curfew “unless we see numbers increase once again for coronavirus cases.”

In addition, the reopening of businesses has been pushed from June 8 to July 5, which will give the tribe more time to clean buildings, get employees tested and get stocked up on personal protection equipment, according to a new executive order from Nez.

The 57-hour curfew has been implemented on the reservation every weekend since April 10. However, Arizona’s statewide curfew, enacted Sunday in response to the protests over the death of George Floyd, remains in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily until Monday.

The vast Navajo reservation has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. To date, Navajo health officials report 5,533 positive cases of COVID-19 and 252 confirmed deaths.

As of Wednesday, June 3, the Arizona Department of Health Services has reported 22,223 cases of COVID-19 and 981 deaths in the state. It said 345,044 tests have been completed as of June 3 in public and private labs in Arizona, and 5.8% of tests have come back positive for the virus. Less than 5% of Arizonans have been tested to date.

Arizona reports record number of cases in single day

Arizona health officials reported 1,127 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a one-day record. Officials have previously said numbers often surge on Tuesdays because it’s the day officials catch up with weekend reporting. However, the new figure is a considerable surge over the previous record, 790 cases reported May 30.

Preschooler tests positive in Gilbert

A preschool in Gilbert is taking strong precautions after a child attending the school was diagnosed with COVID-19, ABC 15 reports. Little Sunshine Playhouse and Preschool alerted parents this week, and school leaders have pledged to have the building professionally disinfected and cleaned.

School reopening plans

Cartwright and Alhambra Elementary School districts have announced similar plans for reopening in the fall, KTAR reports. Meanwhile, officials with Chandler Unified and Mesa Public Schools are forming task forces to develop plans and survey staff and parents. Phoenix Union High School District leaders say they are still weighing options.

Concerns raised about national park reopenings

Tribal leaders and park advocates feel it’s unwise to reopen of Grand Canyon National
Park along with other parks in the Four Corners region. Cronkite News reports that they argue the partial reopening is rushed and now is not the time to relax shutdowns at places with high public activity. In light of President Donald Trump’s plan to reopen American businesses, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has been visiting national parks around the country to discuss reopening with the park officials.

Jalpan Nanavati jul-puhn nah-nah-vuh-tee (he/him/his)
News Reporter, Phoenix

Jalpan Nanavati is an undergraduate student from India majoring in journalism and mass communications with a minor in film and media production. He was a journalist for Cronkite News in summer 2020, and he’s returning as a broadcast reporter in summer 2021. He has produced and directed short films and a full-length documentary.