In terms of land base, the Navajo Nation is the largest reservation in the U.S. It's also home to the largest population, Indian and non-Indian included, making it a likely area for coronavirus cases to emerge. But the coronavirus is reaching into all parts of Indian Country, rural and urban alike. Though IHS officials declined to provide details, the case in the Great Plains Area was previously confirmed to have occurred in Charles Mix County in South Dakota, home to the Yankton Sioux Tribe. The tribe declared a state of emergency after the governor disclosed the case, which affected a man in his 50s. And what was initially scheduled to be a two-day cleanup was extended by several days -- offices on the reservation remain closed through the end of this week. "We are continuing the thorough cleaning of the facility and all programs are conducting intense cleaning of their own facilities," Chairman Robert Flying Hawk said in a March 13 memo. Ponca Tribe is among those taking a hit. Its relatively new gaming facility, the Prairie Flower Casino in Iowa, shut down on Tuesday, after Chairman Larry Wright Jr. declared a state of emergency following confirmed COVID-19 cases in its service areas in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. On Monday, Wright announced a ban on travel for all employees and officials. Of the state of emergency, a contributing factor was the "shortfall in funding of IHS, and the impact that funding shortfall has on tribal nations," he said. Such shortfalls are on the minds of many. In normal times, the IHS only meets about half of the needs of the 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives the agency is supposed to serve.
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY Ponca Tribe of Nebraska office sites will no longer be accepting walk-in traffic. This includes...Posted by Ponca Tribe of Nebraska on Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Tribes have asked the Department of Health and Human Services to execute an interagency transfer of the set-aside from the CDC to the IHS. Michael Weahkee, the Principal Deputy Director of the IHS, participated in the town hall but did not have an answer on the status of the request. H.R.6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, was the first vehicle Congress enacted to in response to the global pandemic. Title III requires "not less than" $40 million to be directed to Indian Country. Two additional vehicles -- one of them is H.R.6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, while the other is in development -- are making their way through the halls of Capitol Hill. Tribes are working closely with key lawmakers to ensure that funds flow to the IHS and to their communities. "My guess is -- and it's only a guess -- it will be this week at the minimum to put together these things," Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, said during the tribal leader town hall. "It will be in the next week before we know what is happening." "There is an effort to move fast and big, if you will," Cole added. The coronavirus has been confirmed in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories. As of Wednesday morning, there have been at least 5,881 people who have tested positive for COVID-19. More than 100 have died, according to health authorities.
Second member of the Navajo Nation tests positive for COVID-19 coronavirus pic.twitter.com/02rzjud2SO— Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez (@NNPrezNez) March 18, 2020
Member of the Navajo Nation tests positive for COVID-19 coronavirus WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – On Tuesday, Navajo Nation...Posted by Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer on Tuesday, March 17, 2020
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