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Cases now at 1,282; tribe to sue Treasury

Graphic courtesy of CDC

This illustration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

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As of Wednesday, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases for the Navajo Nation is 1,282, which includes 606 men and 676 women with an average age of 48.

There are also 49 deaths and the average age among deaths is 65. 

The Navajo Nation will join in a lawsuit with 10 other tribes against the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury over COVID-19 funding.

The allocated $8 billion was intended to help tribal governments fight the COVID-19 pandemic under the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

But it was reported the Secretary of the Treasury intends to fund over 230 Alaska Native Corporations using the funds. Alaska Native Corporations are for-profit corporations organized under state law and are owned by shareholders, including non-Indian shareholders.  The 12 regional Alaska Native Corporations alone have over 138,000 shareholders, employ more than 43,000 people worldwide, and generated more than $10.5 billion in revenues in 2018, according to a news release.

“The Navajo Nation has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic with over 1,200 positive cases and almost 50 deaths. Our Nation’s government is in dire need of support for the critical medical and community needs of our people,” stated Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen N. McPaul.  “We are literally fighting for dollars to save lives.”

Two weeks ago Navajo Times reported that while Navajo Nation was waiting for federal dollars to come in from the federal government it was using monetary donations given to the tribe by its enterprises and the $4 million the Navajo Nation Council had approved to be used from the UUFB.

At the time the total from enterprises was at $2.75 million; since then Navajo Shopping Centers has donated $25,000 to go toward elders and PPE.

“Allocating funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to the Alaska Native Corporations will severely impact the Navajo Nation’s ability to fight COVID-19, and will impact every other tribe as well,” stated President Jonathan Nez. “While the Secretary has not yet announced a formula to disburse the funds, including the Alaska Native Corporations in the calculation will reduce the funds available for tribal governments. The impact on the Navajo Nation will be significant because of the Nation’s size, population, and the already disparate impact of COVID-19 on the Nation.”

Tomorrow night starts another 57-hour curfew for the Navajo Nation.

Should anyone want to donate to the Navajo Nation directly visit: nndoh.org/donate.html


About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council and Office of the President and Vice President. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com. Follow her on Twitter at @abecenti

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