CORONAVIRUS IN INDIAN COUNTRY — COVID-19 ACTIONS

Updated June 18, 2020. 6:59 am EST.

This is an unprecedented time we are living right now. It was important to create this page to help Native Americans find actions and answers. Below is a list of key federal agencies taking action to ensure Americans stay ahead of this invisible threat. From gaming facilities, BIE school closures, to tribal leader emergency declarations, this page will serve as an easy-to-read catch-all information hub. The Coronavirus has affected all 50 states and it is imperative that all 574 federally-recognized Native Nations and 41 urban Indian organizations receive accurate up-to-the-minute information.

As President Trump has stated, every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the coronavirus. And that includes actions affecting tribal nations and their citizens. The White House Task Force continues to meet daily and provides updated guidelines based on the situation that is affecting the world.

For the most up to date actions, visit CDC.gov/coronavirus[↗].

Prevent COVID-19: Social Distance

If you have symptoms or show systems, please visit CDC.gov/covid19[↗]. If you require additional services, please call ahead and make your request to local services providers before you arrive. Please delay or reschedule all non-essential services (routine check-ups/surgeries/dental) until further notice.

Prevent COVID-19: Wear a Face Covering

NEW! SBA and Treasury Announce New EZ and Revised Full Forgiveness Applications for the Paycheck Protection Program

June 18, 2020. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with Treasury, released Wednesday a revised loan forgiveness application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The SBA also unveiled a new EZ application for the forgiveness of PPP loans. The applications and instructions are available in the links below:

NEW! SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Advance Program Reopened to All Eligible Small Businesses and Non-Profits Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

June 15, 2020. To further meet the needs of U.S. small businesses and non-profits, the U.S. Small Business Administration reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants experiencing economic impacts due to COVID-19.

HHS Announces $500 Million Distribution to Tribal Hospitals, Clinics, and Urban Health Centers

May 22, 2020. “President Trump has prioritized the health and well-being of American Indians and Alaska Natives throughout his presidency and the COVID-19 crisis,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “The Trump Administration is making a targeted allocation from the funds Congress provided to send $500 million to Indian healthcare facilities. Combined with other funding, supplies, and flexibility around telehealth, we are working with tribal governments to do everything we can to support heroic Indian healthcare workers and protect Indian Country from COVID-19.” Source: hhs.gov[↗].

Treasury and Interior Announce Distribution of Coronavirus Relief Fund Dollars to Native American Tribes

Treasury has completed making payments to Tribal governments, other than amounts that have not been paid to Alaska Native corporations pending litigation on that issue. Treasury made ($4.8 billion) payments beginning on May 5, 2020, based on population to all Tribal governments submitting correct payment information, other than Alaska Native corporations, and made ($3.2 billion) payments beginning on June 12, 2020, based on employment and expenditures to Tribal governments that received payments based on population and that provided supplemental information before established deadlines. Source: treasury.gov.

May 5, 2020. “We are pleased to begin making $4.8 billion in critical funds available to Tribal governments in all states,” said Secretary Mnuchin. “Our approach is based on the fair balancing of tribal needs.” All details are posted at home.treasury.gov[↗].

COVID-19 Actions Headed by President Trump

The Trump Administration has used a whole-of-government approach to support all of Indian Country. The Indian Health Service and HRSA centers have allocated funding. Rapid delivery of supplies from Project Air Bridge, the CDC, and expanded CMS waivers. Indian Country received priority access to testing, quick expansion to high-speed internet, partnered with FEMA. Tribal leaders continue to have direct access to the White House Intergovernmental Affairs Office, Treasury and SBA to get funding out the door. Source: govdelivery.com[↗].

A White House Indian Country COVID-19 Response Team has partaken in over 160 briefings since January 2020 and actively coordinates with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Pentagon, Health and Human Services (HHS), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs (AS-IA), Indian Health Service (IHS), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and our tribal leaders and tribal councils who are taking swift actions to keep their nations’ safe. We encourage you to monitor for updates and actions on the virus at CDC.gov/coronavirus[↗] and the link will be externally updated.

CDC-RFA-OT20–2004 Supporting Tribal Public Health Capacity in Coronavirus Preparedness and Response HHS-CDC-OSTLTS

(Expired) Deadline May 31, 2020. grants.gov[↗].

The Administration for Children and Families (HHS-ACF) to Release Funding to Support Child Welfare Services

April 24, 2020. The CARES Act spending bill funds an additional $45 million to support child welfare services during this public health crisis. These funds will be dispersed to tribes, states, and territories in an effort to provide financial and administrative support to their child welfare system. acf.hhs.gov[↗].

Treasury Allocates $75 Billion from Cares Act Funds to Main Street Lending Program — Tribes and Tribally-Owned Businesses Now Eligible for Additional Credit Lines

April 30, 2020. The Federal Reserve Board announced it is expanding the scope and eligibility for the Main Street Lending Program. The availability of additional credit is intended to help companies that were in sound financial condition prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic maintain their operations and payroll until conditions normalize. In total, three loan options — termed new, priority, and expanded — will be available. federalreserve.gov[↗].

SBA Issues Interim Final Rule: Gaming Businesses Eligible for PPP

April 24, 2020. Gaming facilities with 500 or fewer employees are now eligible to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. The Small Business Administration (SBA) issued an Interim Final Rule stating that legal gaming businesses are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The local SBA Field Office may be found at sba.gov[↗].

The IHS Statement on Funding Allocations

April 23, 2020. The Indian Health Service announced today that the CARES Act funding has now been allocated across the Indian Health system. Highlights are; $125 million is now available for facilities-type activities, $95 million to support the expansion of telehealth activities across the IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health program, $20 million to support Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs), and $26 million to support Tribal Epidemiology Centers. Full funding information at ihs.gov[↗].

April 22, 2020. Recognizing the strain experienced by the Indian Health Service, $400 million will be allocated for Indian Health Service facilities, distributed on the basis of operating expenses. This money will be distributed on the basis of operating expenses for facilities. This complements other funding provided to IHS and work we’ve done to expand IHS capacity for telehealth. hhs.gov[↗].

NOAA Tribal and Treaty-Reserved Fishing and Fisheries Update

Section 12005 of the CARES Act authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to provide $300 million in appropriated funds to assist fishery participants affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID–19). NOAA Fisheries understands the urgent need for these funds, and our overriding goal is to distribute the assistance as quickly as possible. To that end, we are working daily with the Department and our federal partners to finalize a process to expedite the distribution of Sec. 12005 funds, consistent with the direction provided by Congress. Details about the process for stakeholders and partners at fisheries.noaa.gov[↗]. Stakeholders interested in sharing information on the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses can submit that information to NMFS.COVID-19@noaa.gov.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is seeking applications for the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program

Application due May 29, 2020. The Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program will provide funding to assist eligible states, local units of government, and tribes in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the coronavirus. Apply at bja.ojp.gov[↗].

Federal Transportation Administration (DOT) Cares Act Section 5311(C) Public Transportation on Indian Reservations Apportionments and Allocations

April 9, 2020. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides $25 billion to transit agencies to help to prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. $30 million to public transportation on Indian Reservations. Read more at TRANSIT.DOT.gov[↗].

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

April 14, 2020. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program will provide $200 million in funding, appropriated by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the novel Coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Apply here fcc.gov[↗].

March 30, 2020. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Acts to Support Connectivity on Zuni. The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has granted an emergency Special Temporary Authority request filed by A:shiwi College & Career Readiness Center to use unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum to provide wireless broadband service over the reservation of the Pueblo of Zuni in New Mexico in light of increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Press release posted at fcc.gov[↗].

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ONAP COVID-19 FAQs for Tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs)

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have been designed to assist Tribes and TDHEs while they navigate the impact of COVID-19 on their day-to-day functions. They are divided into the following subject sections: Emergency Funding; Key COVID-19 Information Resources; Reporting Extensions and Waivers; Emergency Operations and Tribal Policies — By Program. FAQs online at HUD.gov[↗].

April 13, 2020. HUD gives housing commissions, Tribes flexibility to focus on tenants during the pandemic. “During difficult times, it is reasonable to expect standard operations and various aspects of ordinary life to be hindered, altered, or upended all together, but as history often has taught us, Americans working as one will prevail,” said Secretary Ben Carson. Information sourced from wnem.com[↗].

Indian Health Service FAQs and Newsroom page

April 8, 2020. Indian Health Service Expands Telehealth Services During COVID-19 Response. The Trump Administration and HHS announced unprecedented steps to expand Americans’ access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. hhs.gov[↗].

An updated calendar on calls, consultations, and meetings. ihs.gov/ihscalendar[↗].

The IHS has developed a landing page with updated resources on cases in the system, a frequently asked questions page, and a newsroom dedicated to information regarding coronavirus across the Indian health system IHS.gov[↗].

The IHS will immediately allocate $570 million to IHS and tribal health programs and $30 million to urban Indian health programs through existing distribution channels. Additional details on how this $600 million will be distributed can be found in a letter Weahkee sent to tribal and urban Indian organization leaders. The IHS plans to distribute the remaining CARES Act funds in the coming weeks.

The Indian Health Service is a system of 12 Area offices and 170 IHS and tribally managed service units. 132 facilities participate in the Tribal Self-Governance Program (TGSP). The IHS provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.2 million of the nation’s estimated 3.7 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. Approximately 70 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives live in urban areas.

March 27, 2020. Agency to begin distributing $134 million in new funds to respond to COVID-19. The IHS will allocate funding to IHS Federal health programs and Tribal health programs (THPs), using the existing distribution methodology for program increases in Hospitals and Health Clinics funding.

Testing at an IHS facility: Specific kits are not needed for the COVID-19 test. Following guidance established by the CDC and Prevention, clinicians, including those at IHS, collect samples with standard synthetic fiber specimen collections swabs and access laboratory testing through public health laboratories in their jurisdictions.

HHS/CDC Funding Action

April 8, 2020. President Trump and Secretary Alex Azar of the HHS, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded more than $1.3 billion to 1,387 health centers. hhs.gov[↗].

April 6, 2020. HHS Announces Upcoming Funding Action to Provide $186 Million for COVID-19 Response. CDC Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Funding awarded $750,000 to Cherokee Nation. (April 6, 2020). hhs.gov[↗].

March 24, 2020. President Trump and Secretary Alex Azar of the HHS have announced rapid funding of $100 million to 1,381 HRSA-funded health centers across the country. This includes; Native American Community Health Center, Tuba City Regional Healthcare Corp, First Nations Community Health Source, Jemez Pueblo, Indian Health Board of Minneapolis, Seattle Indian Health Board, and more. For a list of award recipients, visit bphc.hrsa.gov[↗].

On March 20, 2020. HHS announced upcoming action by the CDC to provide $80 million in funding to tribes, tribal organizations, and Urban Indian Organizations. Information sourced from HHS.gov[↗].

Congressional Actions

(Phase III) Signed by President Trump and became law. March 27, 2020. H.R.748 — CARES Act. Indian Health Services will receive $1.03B; of the $1B, $450 million shall be distributed through tribal shares and contracts with urban Indian organizations; ‘‘Operation of Indian Affairs Programs’’ to receive $453M, including public safety and emergency response; ‘‘Operation of Indian Education Programs’’ to receive $69M; of the $69M, $20M shall be for tribal colleges and universities; $5M shall be available for the Office of Public and Indian Housing; No less than $300M shall be available for the Native American Housing Block Grants program; $100M shall be for the food distribution program on Indian reservations program (FDPIR, SNAP). $8 billion for Tribal governments. The amount distributed based on increased expenditures of each Tribal government[↗]. (and/or a tribally-owned entity) and will ensure that all amounts are distributed to Tribal governments.

March 31, 2020. The CARES Act includes a Coronavirus Relief Fund (CVF) that includes an $8 billion set aside for Tribal governments, to be distributed no later than April 26, 2020. bia.gov[↗].

This includes $1,200 (If you made less than $75,000 in 2018 or filed 2019), plus $500 per child. IF YOU FILED YOUR 2018/2019 TAXES ELECTRONICALLY AND ASKED FOR DIRECT DEPOSIT, THE AMOUNT WILL BE DIRECTLY DEPOSITED. If you did not file electronically, it will be mailed. Delivery is about 2–3 weeks.

(Phase II) March 18, 2020. H.R.6201 — Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The act specifically allocates $64M to the Indian Health Service to cover the costs of COVID-19 diagnostic testing for Indians receiving care through the Indian Health Service or through an Urban Indian Health Organization. Signed by President Trump and became law.

(Phase I) March 6, 2020. H.R.6074 — Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020. The act specifically allocates $40M to tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, or health service providers to tribes. Signed by President Trump and became law.

Nonprofit Funding Opportunities

First Nations awards $635,000 in grant funding. First Nations will continue to make grants directly to communities, and 100% of donations to the Emergency Fund go directly to tribes and Native-led organizations. For more information, visit firstnations.org[↗].

The NDN Collective’s COVID-19 Response Project is designed to provide immediate relief to some of the most underserved communities in the country. NDN’s intent is to quickly distribute resources to frontline organizations, Tribes, and individuals who are providing essential services to Indigenous communities within the next 15–45 days to provide gap resources during this health crisis. ndncollective.org[↗].

Nonprofit Actions

April 8, 2020. American Bar Association webinar will discuss how Native Americans are being impacted through this crisis both from a health perspective and an economic perspective. | April 6, 2020. NIHB All-Tribes Call with Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). Discussed 1135 waiver authorities, 1135 Medicaid waivers and disaster relief State Plan Amendments (SPAs) and 1115 waivers, Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) and other Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ) waivers, Medicare telehealth services, Medicaid telehealth services. | March 27, 2020. The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) urges to organize immediate consultations with the Treasury and Interior. Two consultations by Treasury and BIA were hosted April 2nd and 9th, 2020.| March 26, 2020. The Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), the Native American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC), the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), the Native American Contractors Association (NACA), the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), and the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) hosted a Tribal Town Hall. Over 1,000 people listened in. | March 20, 2020. NCAI asks Congress for a $28.3 billion COVID-19 stimulus package plus waivers for Indian Country. | March 18, 2020. NAFOA, NCAI, NIHB, NICWA, NIEA hosted a press conference. | March 18, 2020. NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. sent a letter to the House Native American Caucus requesting direct financial assistance to our Tribal Governments. Information sourced from IndianGaming.org. | March 17, 2020. NAFOA, NCAI, NIHB hosted a Tribal Leader Town Hall on COVID-19. You can find a recording of the meeting here: bit.ly/3daF5Fq[↗ YouTube]. | March 17, 2020. NIHB Executive Director Stacy Bohlen hosted a Listening Session with Dr. Jay Butler, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases, CDC and Rear Admiral (RADM) Michael D. Weahkee, Principal Deputy Director of the IHS. | March 17, 2020. The Congressional Native American Caucus sent a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations. The joint letter was submitted by NCUIH, NIHB, and NCAI.

USDA Meals for Kids Site Finder

To slow the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), many schools have closed unexpectedly. To ensure that children who rely on free or reduced-price meals at school are able to get the nutrition they need, USDA is working with states to continue providing meals to students.

Type your location or address into the interactive map[↗] to find directions to nearby sites as well as hours of operation and contact information.

Also, the USDA National Hunger Hotline[↗] remains a helpful resource for people seeking food assistance. The hotline, operated by Hunger Free America, can be reached Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. at 1–866–3-HUNGRY (1–866–348–6479)

(FNS) Disaster Household Distribution

April 16, 2020. Under a Presidential Declaration of a National Emergency, FNS may approve requests for Disaster Household Distributions for targeted areas to meet specific needs when traditional channels of food are unavailable and not being replenished on a regular basis. DHD provides boxed foods to households using existing inventories of USDA-purchased foods. USDA has approved targeted DHD programs for the following states and Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs). fns.usda.gov[↗].

Meal Service In Indian Country

March 21, 2020. To better direct families in Indian Country to specific resources serving Tribal communities, the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) at the University of Arkansas has begun compiling a list that will continue to be updated with Bureau of Indian Education school meal sites, individual Tribal Nation efforts to assist with meal service, and state school district meal options in counties with an AI/AN population of over 1%. These resources will continue to be updated as the situation with the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to change. Information sourced from indigenousfoodandag.com[↗].

Department of Agriculture (USDA): FNS Actions to Respond to COVID-19

Food Package Substitution Waivers: FFRCA provides USDA the authority to allow states and Indian Tribal Organizations to permit appropriate substitutes for the types and amounts of certain WIC-prescribed foods if their availability is limited. Learn more at FNS.USDA.gov[↗].Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program

March 24, 2020. The Administration for Children and Families(ACF) and the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) have heard from several grantees expressing concerns about the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the TANF program and are fielding many questions about how TANF can help support people affected by it. ACF has recently published a FAQs site at acf.hhs.gov[↗].

National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA)

The Administration for Community Living (ACL), The National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) will be convening weekly calls with all Title VI grantees about the COVID-19. These calls will provide new information and updates to tribal programs, but most importantly are an opportunity for tribes to discuss the impact that COVID-19 is having in your communities. Call Details: Every Friday at 3:00 pm EST. Conference phone number: 888–788–6210; passcode: 7368121. Information sourced from olderindians.acl.gov[↗].

Title VI support service grants were awarded to 254 Tribal organizations (representing more than 400 Tribes) serving Native elders. Title VI support services provided more than 2.3 million meals to nearly 52,000 Native American elders (FY 2013).

Department of Labor (DOL) Guidance

To reduce the impact of COVID-19 outbreak conditions on businesses, workers, customers, and the public, it is important for all employers to plan for COVID-19. For more on guidance and planning, go to osha.gov[↗.pdf] and dol.gov[↗].

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Considerations

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is advising that in these extraordinary times of risk of viral infection, it is recommended that intensive outpatient treatment services be utilized whenever possible. SAMHSA is allowing flexibility for grant recipients affected by the loss of operational capacity and increased costs due to the COVID-19 crisis. For more on treatment guidance, please go to samhsa.gov[↗].

Contact the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (800) 985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 that provides 24/7, 365-day-a- year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Updates

April 15, 2020. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Jelmyto (mitomycin gel), the first therapy to treat low-grade upper tract urothelial cancer (UTUC). Urothelial cancer is a cancer of the lining of the urinary system. Information updated from fda.gov[↗].

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in the Indian Health System

Indian Country Today has started keeping track of #COVID19 cases in tribal communities. datawrapper.dwcdn.net[↗].

Live United States Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker

Updated June 18, 2020. 6:27 am EST. Nationwide Live Data — Tested: over 23,000,000, Confirmed cases: 2,177,122, Deaths: 119,271, Recovered: 918,796. Data sources: CDC, WHO, state and county agencies. Information sourced from infection2020.com[↗].

Proactive Actions from Tribal Leaders and Tribal Business Leaders

“Tribal Diagnostics is proud to use our experience during these challenging and unprecedented times. We have now conducted over 1 million laboratory tests and feel uniquely positioned to join the fight to control the COVID-19 outbreak across the country and especially within our Tribal communities by doing what we do best — providing comprehensive lab analysis as quickly as possible,” said CEO Cory Littlepage, who is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma on his company to start COVID-19 testing. April 23, 2020, from tribaldiagnostics.com.

“We have been taking this very seriously from the beginning. It is impacting our family; these are not just our citizens; these are our relatives, our brothers and our sisters, aunts, uncles and grandmothers and grandfathers.” Chairman Lawrence Solomon, Lummi Indian Business Council. March 17, 2020, from the seattletimes.com

“Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses are working with community groups and volunteers to get needed food and other supplies to elders. (On March 10, 2020), we’ve established a hotline for our Cherokee first-language speakers to share information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 and to provide help if they need food, medications or other essentials.” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. of the Cherokee Nation. March 25, 2020, from the claremoreprogress.com.

“COVID-19 does not discriminate. We are facing an invisible enemy that we must unite to defeat. The CoV-2 Rapid Test brings visibility to this faceless foe so that our heroes on the frontlines, the doctors, nurses and first responders know where to take the fight and how to treat our fellow citizens who have contracted the virus.” Chairman David Sickey, Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana. March 24, 2020 from viverapharmaceuticals.com.

Tribal Nation Emergency Declarations

A list of tribal emergency declarations is now found here.

May 18, 2020. 175 tribal nations have declared an emergency declaration. 40 tribes are working with FEMA directly. Some tribes are choosing to partner with their state as a sub-recipient.

Based on the President’s national emergency declaration for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on March 13, 2020, tribal governments may be a Recipient or Subrecipient for FEMA Public Assistance. The following guidance at FEMA.gov[↗] supports questions related to the tribal recipient/sub-recipient assistance process.

A tribal government must CONFIRM the activation of its emergency plan to receive assistance as a Recipient. FEMA regulations do not specify legal requirements for emergency plan content; only that a tribal government has one and activates it BEFORE requesting a declaration. Information sourced from FEMA.gov[↗].

USET has a great catch-all 42-page resource at USETinc.org[↗].

A list of tribal emergency declarations is now found here[↗].

Additional questions? Please directly call your BIA regional office.

Alaska: (800) 645–8465 | Eastern: (615) 564–6500 | Eastern Oklahoma: (918) 781–4600 | Great Plains: (605) 226–7343 | Midwest: (612) 725–4500 | Navajo Region: (505) 863–8314 | Northwest: (503) 231–6702 | Pacific: (916) 978–6000| Rocky Mountain: (406) 247–7943 | Southern Plains: (405) 247–6673 | Southwest Region: (505) 563–3103 | Western Region: (602) 379–6600.

Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) School Closures

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School. Bena, MN.

BIE sent guidance and the communications protocol regarding the closure of a BIE funded school location due to risks posed by COVID-19 that create facility conditions that may constitute an immediate hazard to health and safety to school administrators.

Currently, the Bureau of Indian Education oversees a total of 183 elementary, secondary, residential and peripheral dormitories across 23 states serving approximately 48,000 students. 130 schools are tribally controlled. 53 schools are operated by the Bureau of Indian Education. The Bureau of Indian Education also oversees Haskell Indian Nations University and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute.

As of March 23, all 185 BIE schools are closed. A list of school closure and other actions are listed at BIA.gov[↗] and the link will be externally updated. Some schools are still contractually obligated to provide school meals. If tribal leaders would like schools to cease meal operations, please contact the BIE director.

American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start and Early Head Start

There are 150 AIAN Head Start and 58 AIAN Early Head Start programs in 26 different states across the country. In response to COVID-19, OHS is advising grantees to coordinate with local health authorities and implement their existing policies and procedures related to the closure of Head Start and Early Head Start centers during infectious disease outbreaks. Closure of centers in areas heavily impacted by COVID-19 is an important element of containing and limiting its spread. Information sourced from the National Indian Head Start Directors Association NIHSDA.org[↗].

Tribal Gaming Facilities

Tribal and federal law require that each tribe conducting gaming ensures that its gaming facilities adequately protect public health and safety. 247 tribal governments operated over 520 gaming facilities in 29 states, helping Tribal gaming bring in more than $16.0 billion in taxes and direct payments to federal, state, and local governments. Indian gaming delivers over 700,000 American jobs. FY 2018 gaming revenues totaled $33.7 billion.

National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC)

April 24, 2020. NIGC releases a guidance letter related to planning for a re-opening. Preparation measures are available on the recently updated NIGC Frequently Asked Questions document (see link). NIGC will continue to expand on how mitigation measures protect the public’s safety and ensure a fair gaming operation. nigc.gov[↗].

April 17, 2020. The NIGC institutes a hiring and promotion freeze, cancels in-person regional training conferences for the remainder of the year, and limits travel. nigc.gov[↗].

Mortgage Relief

March 18, 2020. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with the Trump Administration authorized the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to implement an immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single-family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages for the next 60 days. If there are new updates, they will be posted at HUD.gov[↗].

Student Loans

March 25, 2020. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that, due to the COVID-19 national emergency, the Department will halt collection actions and wage garnishments to provide additional assistance to borrowers. This flexibility will last for a period of at least 60 days from March 13, 2020. At the same time, the Secretary directed the Department to refund approximately $1.8 billion in offsets to more than 830,000 borrowers. Information sourced from ed.gov[↗].

President Trump announced March 20, 2020, that federal student loan payments will be suspended without penalty for the next two months. According to the U.S. Department of Education, all borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for a period of at least 60 days beginning March 13.

Borrowers have an option to suspend the payment of their federal students without penalty and can contact their student loan servicer to request an administrative forbearance. Educational Secretary Betsy DeVos also automatically suspended federal student loan payments for any borrower more than 31 days delinquent as of March 13, 2020. Information source from Ed.gov[↗].

State/Territorial Resource and Actions:

Governors are working closely with federal and local officials as well as private sector partners to address the threat of the novel coronavirus. The information sourced from the National Governors Association highlights key actions and resources that may inform other states and territories as they prepare for and respond to the novel coronavirus. Information is updated regularly at NGA.gov[↗].

Local County Efforts

Counties are on the front lines protecting our communities from the coronavirus and other illnesses that have the potential to become a pandemic. Counties support over 900 hospitals and operate over 1,900 public health departments, which are the ground troops in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. Learn what steps counties are taking at NACO.org[↗].

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Relief

March 21, 2020. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has temporarily closed all Taxpayer Assistance Centers and discontinued face-to-face service throughout the country until further notice. The filing deadline for tax returns remains April 15, 2020. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. Income tax payment deadlines for individual returns, with a due date of April 15, 2020, are being automatically extended until July 15, 2020, for up to $1 million of their 2019 tax due. Small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. Information sourced from IRS.gov[↗].

Above all, please continue to visit the CDC.gov/covid19[↗] website for the most up-to-date resources on actions to contain the virus.

Connector. Communicator. American. Navajo Tribal Citizen.