Chair Grijalva, Natural Resources Committee Launch New Coronavirus Resource Center, Seek Impact Information from Indian Country
Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and the majority staff of the House Natural Resources Committee are seeking information from Native American communities impacted by coronavirus on the level of governmental response they’ve seen, the status of their health and social safety needs, and how Congress and other agencies can better serve them during the pandemic. The Committee has set up an online form available at https://bit.ly/2IZFWur and is now welcoming input from tribes and tribal organizations across the country.
The Committee is hosting the form as part of a larger online coronavirus resource center for groups and individuals seeking more information about health care resources and government response, including in Indian Country and the U.S. territories. The full resource center, available at https://bit.ly/2WwiPjo, includes fact sheets, links to federal sources of information, and best practices from health professionals for those who suspect they may have contracted coronavirus.
The Committee is doing everything possible to ensure that Indian Country, insular territories and other underserved populations have necessary resources to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The new resources and call for information come as the Trump administration’s response to coronavirus in Indian Country is facing intense scrutiny. As Politico reported this morning, “The Trump administration has held up $40 million in emergency aid Congress approved earlier this month to help American Indians combat the coronavirus — a delay that’s left tribal leaders across the nation frustrated and ill-equipped to respond to the fast-growing outbreak.”
“Trump officials need to do much more than make vague announcements about new funding for Indian Country,” Grijalva said today. “They need to make sure approved funds are getting where they actually need to go to save lives, and there’s no evidence they’re taking that need seriously. It is their responsibility, not that of tribal health groups or nonprofit organizations, to administer federal dollars and carry out legally binding directives from Congress. Trump administration indifference and incompetence are already costing Native American lives, and the longer this goes unaddressed, the higher the death toll will be across Indian Country and the nation as a whole.”
Politico notes that congressionally approved funding for coronavirus response in Indian Country “has languished in bureaucratic limbo for weeks, despite increasingly urgent pleas from tribal organizations desperate to stockpile essential supplies and keep health clinics operational. Federally run American Indian health facilities are well short on hospital beds and ventilators, some frontline clinics received fewer than a dozen coronavirus tests, and federal officials have already signaled there will be little in the way of reinforcements — telling tribal leaders that all they can send right now are expired respirators.”
Grijalva sent a letter on March 18 to Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee, principal deputy director for Indian Health Services (IHS), citing a number of concerns about the pace and scope of the Trump administration’s response to the spread of coronavirus in Indian Country and at urban Indian health centers. Grijalva’s letter, available at http://bit.ly/2IWbxxp, asks for documentation of the availability of intensive care unit beds, ventilators and other response equipment at IHS facilities and urban Indian health centers nationwide.
March 20, 2020
Media Contact: Adam Sarvana
(202) 225-6065 or (202) 578-6626 mobile
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