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Officials: Navajo Police Department employees test positive for COVID-19

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Posted at 6:13 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 22:20:52-04

WINDOW ROCK, AZ — The Navajo Police Department confirmed Wednesday that nine of its employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement on their Facebook page, the department said the Chief of Police was notified of two positive results on Monday, and seven others on Wednesday.

“Our employee’s 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,” Chief Francisco said.

“The health and safety of our officers and the staff who work closely with them are a priority and we will monitor all personnel as we continue to provide essential services," Francisco said.

Officials say the names and roles of the staff members are not being released for their privacy and overall well-being. Those employees have been placed on self-quarantine and are monitoring their symptoms.

"We understand the risks that all of our officers take every day and with the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk is escalated even higher. The safety of our officers is always the top priority that’s why it’s critical that everyone stays home as much as possible. When people take unnecessary risks, it creates more challenges and compromises the well-being of those on the front lines. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of our Navajo Police Officers,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez stated.

Officials say the police department's building in Chinle will begin the process of decontamination.

"The support staff with the Chinle district will be placed on administrative leave during the disinfection and sanitization process.” Chief Francisco said. “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.”

On Tuesday, Navajo Nation Health officials updated the current cases of COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation to a total of 838 cases.

Of those cases, 746 are located on the Navajo Nation and 92 are located in border town areas.

Vital resources are currently being distributed to the Navajo Nation including ventilators, rapid test kits and personal protective equipment.

Fifty ventilators were delivered over the weekend and PPE was flown in by the Arizona National Guard. Rapid response COVID-19 test kits now heading to medical facilities across the reservation.

“These rapid test kits will give us a quicker result, accurate results in less than an hour,” said President Nez.