O’Halleran helps secure much-needed COVID-19 aid on the Navajo Nation

April 1, 2020
Contributed Columns

VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK — On Tuesday, after working in conjunction with tribal, state, and federal leadership, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) announced newly secured federal aid to fight the coronavirus on the Navajo Nation. O’Halleran praised the ongoing teamwork to address the needs of the Navajo Nation during the outbreak of COVID-19 in the following statement.

“Over the weekend, I was pleased to see weeks of preparatory work result in the mobilization of federal personnel to deliver much-needed equipment and resources to Indian Country. During the passage of the CARES Act, I pushed for key provisions to address the needs of rural Arizona, including tribal communities, and secured over $8 billion in federal funding specifically for Tribes. I am glad to finally see this funding being implemented.

In our district, the greatest concentrated need for relief efforts is on the Navajo Nation, where there are currently over 148 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 117 of which span three counties in Arizona’s First Congressional District. There have been five deaths on Navajo overall.

My staff and I have been working closely with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, and their teams to get vital equipment and personnel to the Navajo Nation as this public health crisis continues to unfold. I am pleased to see the continued coordination among our teams, as well as with the administration.

The Arizona National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Indian Health Service (IHS), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have all heeded our call and provided crucial equipment and personnel. 

This equipment includes 58 beds, blankets, personal protective equipment, and other essential items delivered to the Chinle Community Center. Additional health care professionals have also been dispatched to the area. The Arizona National Guard will be working with Tuba City Regional Health Care Center to provide relief for medical staff and personnel. On Sunday, at the request of Navajo leadership, the Tuba City Chapter also set up tent facilities at the local fairgrounds area to use as medical stations. 

I am thankful to everyone I met over the weekend as part of this mobilization effort and look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to fight this outbreak. I am pleased to see our joint efforts have led to new developments that will help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus on the Navajo Nation. I will continue to work with President Nez, Vice President Lizer, the Navajo House of Delegates, Governor Ducey, and the administration to ensure that resources are allocated to the Navajo Nation, as they suffer from a disproportionately high number of cases.  My office has assigned four staff members to assist in this crisis response on the Navajo Nation. 

I continue to urge everyone on the Navajo Nation and families throughout Arizona to follow CDC guidelines and local government orders for sheltering in place.  As we continue to work together to slow the spread of this disease, my thoughts and prayers are with all COVID-19 victims and their families.”

The Navajo Nation has issued a new Public Health Order to extend the current “Stay at Home Order” and has implemented a curfew for the entire Navajo Nation that requires everyone to stay home from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., seven days a week.