WINDOW ROCK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Nine employees with the Navajo Nation Police Department have tested positive for COVID-19, the department said Wednesday. There were originally two in the morning, but then an additional seven were added in the evening.
The names and roles of the employees will not be released, according to a press release from Navajo Nation Police Chief Phillip Francisco. The workers are in self-quarantine and monitoring their symptoms. The department has started sanitizing and decontaminating the police building in Chinle, which means the support staff in the Chinle district will be on administrative leave.
“Because of our responsibilities to the community, we will continue to be vigilant and committed to answering calls of service while keeping the safety of the public a high priority,” Francisco said in a statement.
The chief added the department is working to get more personal protective equipment for officers and staff, as well as more testing for employees.
"Our employees' health and well-being is a priority, and as essential employees working in the field of public safety, we are not immune from the possibility of having one of our law enforcement family contract the virus. As the numbers of positive cases increase across the Navajo Nation, so does our risk of being exposed," Francisco said.
The Navajo Nation has seen a rapid spread of coronavirus, with 813 cases reported on the Nation as of Wednesday. More than 500 of those cases are in Arizona.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer are currently self-quarantined after being near a first-responder who tested positive for COVID-19. Both the president and vice president were wearing gloves and masks at the time. Both say they are feeling fine, but are self-quarantining as a precaution.
In a Thursday morning announcement, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said he and Vice President Myron Lizer are self-quarantining after being near a first-responder who tested positive for COVID-19.
Nez urges the public to stay home to protect those on the frontlines. He issued a strict daily curfew from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. to help slow the spread of the virus.
"The safety of our officers is always the top priority. That's why it's critical that everyone stays home as much as possible. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of our Navajo police officers," Nez said.