Navajo Nation under another three-week lockdown, ICU at capacity

The Navajo Nation is implementing another three weeks of lockdown and curfews after a big increase in COVID-19 cases.

Its hospitals are filled at the capacity and health care workers are making tough decisions on how to treat patients with few resources.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez says what they're dealing with is the worst they've seen since the pandemic began.

RELATED: Navajo Nation ICU beds at full capacity; lockdown extended

One of the toughest parts, they can’t send members of their community to other hospitals because many of the surrounding areas are full too.

“We are hopeful with the three weeks and additional three weeks stay at home lockdown, we will see these numbers come down," Nez said on Dec. 7, adding that when a person is released from the hospital, another is already coming in.

Part of the reason for this is that they don’t have many beds.

Many of the Navajo people have diabetes and other pre-existing conditions. Add in pandemic fatigue, Nez says many became relaxed about the pandemic.

“We relaxed a bit and seeing that COVID fatigue here as well people trying to get back to day to day,” Nez explained, but says he remains encouraged.

After seeing the data come in after the Thanksgiving holiday, Nez says the rates of infection weren’t as high as expected, thanks in part due to the lockdown.

He hopes this momentum will continue for the Christmas holiday, saying, “Half of our population, half of our citizens that live off the nation and want to come home, our message is not right now.”

As for the vaccines, Nez says he's working to determine how much of the vaccine the nation will be receiving and when they will be getting it.