AIPI COVID-19 Update April 14, 2020

 Arizona tribes to get $37 million for COVID-19 affordable housing (April 9, 2020) 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is issuing $37 million to Arizona’s tribes to fund housing needs during the pandemic. In total, the Indian Housing Block Grant, an addition to the CARES Act stimulus package, will provide $200 million to tribes in 35 states. The grants can be used for housing development, operation, and maintenance, modernization of existing housing and housing services to eligible individuals and families. The Navajo Nation will receive the bulk of money in Arizona, with $22.3 million allocated to Window Rock. Other tribes in Arizona that were allocated a larger portion of the funds include the Gila River Indian Community, White Mountain Apache Tribe, and Hopi Tribe which are set to receive $2.4 million, $2.2 million and $2 million respectively. 

Oglala Sioux council banishes non-member with COVID-19 from reservation (April 9, 2020) 

The Oglala Sioux tribal council voted last Wednesday evening to banish a non-member from the Pine Ridge Reservation after she contracted COVID-19. The woman contracted the virus after returning from Denver on her way to a medical appointment in California that ended up being canceled, her employer, Red Cloud Indian School, said. The woman was the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on the reservation. With the council deadlocked 9-9 on a motion to banish the woman and her husband, the 10th vote in favor of banishment was submitted by President Julian Bear Runner. “For an individual to leave the reservation going to one of the major hot spots where this virus is and then come back is just uncalled for,” he said. Red Cloud “fully supports the tribe and its decision making” on this serious issue, school president Raymond Nadolny told reporters last week. Red Cloud is paying for the couple’s housing in nearby Rapid City and the employee continues to earn a salary. This was a “really hard decision” and the couple should know that banishments can be challenged and overturned, President Bear Runner added. 

Chickasaw Nation opens COVID-19 test centers (April 10, 2020) 

The Chickasaw Nation Department of Health has built temporary COVID-19 testing centers to provide access to patients with symptoms relating to the coronavirus. The tented structures are located at Chickasaw Nation Health Clinics in Ardmore and Purcell in addition to the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center in Ada, Oklahoma. Tents are located in the parking lots of the facilities and stocked with necessary medical equipment to assess patients for potential infection of the virus. The areas are designed as drive-throughs so patients do not exit their vehicles. “We are here to not only serve the Chickasaw people but the public at large as needed,” said Chickasaw Nation Chief Medical Officer John Krueger. “We want to keep our community healthy and do our part to fight this pandemic with a warrior mentality.” 

‘Innovative changes’ help tribal health care address COVID-19 (April 13, 2020) 

The Cherokee Nation has adapted to the coronavirus threat with updated health screening protocols and a push for quicker testing. CN Health Services moved its pre-screening process at W.W. Hastings Hospital outdoors underneath tents “to decrease potential exposure” for emergency and urgent care patients, according to the tribe. Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. noted that these drive-thru tents will be located in health center parking lots, allowing patients and staff to stay as safe as possible. Additionally, the Tribe announced a signed agreement with Abbott Laboratories to bring rapid response COVID-19 tests to the CN health system. These tests will have results in as quick as a few minutes, allowing the Tribe to better isolate COVID-19 patients and trace recent contacts to limit the spread of the virus. Using expertise from Italy, the Tribe also recently used a 3-D printer and diving gear to create a new Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure, or BiPAP, machine, typically used for sleep apnea. “These new machines are being tested this week,” Hoskin said. “They could prove to be life-saving equipment at our hospital.” 

How Native Americans Are Fighting a Food Crisis (April 13, 2020) 

From New York to Arizona and many places in between, this article highlights efforts by tribal communities to combat any COVID-19 related food shortages by returning to traditional meats and/or crops. Some are planting and sharing seeds, others are donating food and supplies; all are concerned with the wellbeing of our communities, specifically the elders. 

Other online resources available

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

Indian Country Today’s COVID-19 Syllabus for the latest updates on the virus

IHS Coronavirus Page; IHS Announcements 

National Congress of American Indians - Indian Country Resources: Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

National Council of Urban Indian Health: Coronavirus Resource Center