It's been 18 months since COVID-19 first swept through the Navajo Nation and the rest of the country, there are signs of progress, but President Jonathan Nez tells ABC15 he hasn't forgotten those early days of the pandemic.
"We have over 1,400 of our Navajo citizens who have passed away and our thoughts and prayers go out to those families," says President Nez. "But right now we are seeing a decrease in cases."
ABC15 was there last year as the Navajo Nation was coming out of the coronavirus storm.
"Of course as a leader, a lot of things go through your mind and you also have to be hopeful that we can be able to overcome any challenges," says President Nez.
According to President Nez, between 70-75% of the Navajo's eligible population is vaccinated, which is higher than most other parts of Arizona.
Currently, there is no more curfew, destinations like Monument Valley have reopened, and schools are full once again, but other restrictions remain in place. President Nez acknowledges that the protocols are tough, but says they've helped keep more of his people alive.
"We followed some very strict protocols that were put in place and recommended by the CDC, and we continue to do the same."
Current restrictions include mask mandates, 50% capacity limits for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, and limiting gatherings to 15 people or less.
President Nez also says his administration is starting to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for certain events.
"The Navajo people know we have the ability to push back on these monsters and COVID-19 is one of those monsters. We receive the weapons and armor to fight off these modern-day monsters."