Navajo Nation maintains mask mandate as New Mexico drops it

A person holds a mask while walking outside in Philadelphia, Friday, May 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Navajo Nation is maintaining a mask mandate to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, even as the last of the states that surround the reservation dropped the requirement.

The 27,000 square-mile (70,000 square-kilometer) reservation extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made a surprise announcement Thursday to lift the state’s mask mandate for indoor public spaces. Utah’s requirement for most public settings was short-lived. Arizona never had a statewide mask mandate.

The Navajo Nation implemented a mask mandate early on in the pandemic. Residents and visitors are required to wear masks in public, and schoolchildren also must mask up.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez said the tribe must do everything it can to help those who are treating the infected. He encouraged those on the reservation to double mask and get fully vaccinated.

“Please be very cautious, encourage your elders to take precautions and continue to pray,” he said in a statement Friday.

The tribe reported 11 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Friday and two more deaths, bringing the total numbers to 52,023 cases and 1,641 deaths.

Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.