As of May 5, San Juan County now has 119 confirmed cases of COVID-19 after the Utah Navajo Health System and the Utah Department of Health’s Utah Public Health Laboratory instituted local outreach testing.
“These types of testing events help us find cases rapidly,” says Kirk Benge, director of San Juan County Public Health.
Public health measures on the Navajo Nation have continued to use weekend curfews and a stay-at-home order to control the spread of COVID-19 as case numbers on the reservation increase. As of May 5, there were almost 2,500 positive cases and 74 deaths in the Navajo Nation, including the death of a mother and son in San Juan County.
The Navajo Nation government and regional mutual aid groups continue to deliver supplies to isolated families unable to travel to a grocery store.
“[Prayers] are strong and they will help us get through this pandemic, but we have to meet our prayers half way by making smart decisions for ourselves and our family members, said Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer.
“It appears that many people are still traveling and some are not wearing masks and practicing social distances. For the safety of our elders, our children, and each other, please remain home as much as possible and stay safe,” Lizer commented.
On April 30, the San Juan County Board of Health voted to officially allow all local ordinances to expire and let public health policy fall solely under the governor's orders.
“San Juan County will follow Governor Herbert's Phased Guidelines under the Orange (Moderate Risk) category with no alterations or variations at this time,” said San Juan Public Health Director Kirk Benge.
Utah State Rep. Phil Lyman, who represents San Juan County, expressed disapproval of any public health order via his social media accounts.
“They, the national government, should stick to the specifically enumerated powers of printing money, declaring war, and taking care of Indian Reservations, because they are clearly doing such a good job with those specific and defined delegated powers (not),” he wrote on his Facebook account on May 3.
Lyman also said that he would personally not wear a face mask, as is recommended to prevent the spread of the disease, “unless of course I am prohibited by my government from wearing one, in which case I would clearly have to wear one.”