Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > The Trump Administration Is Supporting Indian Country in Response to COVID-19
Posted: May 5, 2020

The Trump Administration Is Supporting Indian Country in Response to COVID-19

We will leverage every resource we have to bring safety to our tribal communities, and we will not waver in this mission.

– President Donald J. Trump


Overview:  Response  and  recovery  efforts  are  locally  executed,  State  and  Tribal  Government  managed,  and federally supported. Successful emergency  management requires nationwide cooperation and unity of  effort, combining the strength and ingenuity of our citizens and private sector with a sweeping, all-inclusive, and whole- of-government  response.  The  below  is  a  partial  overview  of  Federal  assistance  provided  to  the  574  federally recognized Tribes in the United States to combat the Coronavirus. The information is bolstered by hundreds of additional actions  by the  Federal  Government  to help  Tribal  governments, their  leaders,  and  Tribal  citizens. Implementation of the CARES Act  and other supplemental funding  is ongoing and will also bring additional support to Indian Country. President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have appreciated the strong  partnership  with  Tribal  leaders,  Tribal  public  health  officials,  and  Indian  Country  professionals nationwide.

Supportive Actions by President Donald J. Trump:

President  Trump  Declares  a  National  Emergency:  On  March  13,  President  Trump  declared  a national emergency concerning COVID-19. The emergency declaration authorized direct Federal assistance, temporary facilities, commodities, equipment, and emergency operation costs for all States and Tribes of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. A Tribal government may choose to be a sub-recipient under a state that has chosen to be a recipient of FEMA assistance or choose to be a direct recipient of FEMA. As of May 4, 40 Tribes have signed agreements with FEMA making them eligible for assistance under the emergency declaration. Additional information and guidance can be found here.

Tribal Government Disaster Declarations: In addition to assistance available to Tribal governments under the nationwide emergency declaration, Tribal governments have the option to request assistance under a Presidential major disaster declaration. For the first time in history, every State in the country has received a major disaster declaration, which means every  Tribal government in the country is covered by a major disaster declaration (should a Tribe opt to be a sub-recipient under the State declaration). More here.

Coronavirus Guidelines for America: On March 16, President Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force announced guidelines (15 Days to Slow the Spread) to assist State, Local, and Tribal leaders in preventing the spread of the Coronavirus. On March 31, President Trump announced revised guidelines (30 Days to Slow the Spread) extending mitigation measures through April 30.

Historic Economic Relief: On April 24, President Trump signed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health   Care   Enhancement   Act into   law.   The   law   provides further unprecedented   economic   relief   to American citizens, small businesses, workers, healthcare providers, and State, local, and Tribal governments and builds on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriation. More here.

Guidelines  for  Opening  Up  America  Again:  On  April  16,  President  Trump  and  the  White  House Coronavirus Task Force unveiled guidelines for the reopening of America. Developed by the top medical experts from across the Government, the guidelines outline a phased return to reopening and include specific steps for State, Local, and Tribal officials to follow in tailoring their response.

Testing, Resource & Logistics Support: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working with  the  U.S.  Department  of  Health  &  Human  Services  (HHS),  other  Federal  agencies,  and  private  sectorpartners, to produce, allocate, and distribute key resources to the Indian Health Service (IHS) and key Tribal health facilities nationwide. Most notably, these include personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies, ventilators, and the expedition of critical supplies from overseas to various U.S. locations.

    On March 6, 2020, the IHS activated the IHS Incident Command Structure (ICS) in response to COVID-19.

This  formally  established  ICS  sections  charged  with  leading  Agency  activities.  Each  section  facilitates activities that may assist Tribes in their response and recovery to COVID-19.

– HHS, the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are providing unprecedented regulatory flexibilities, resources, and guidance to expand the availability of testing and to assist States and Tribes across the country in scaling testing. Learn more from the CDC here and FDA here. In addition, CARES Act and other supplemental disbursements, alongside FEMA resources, are important avenues for Tribal governments to scale testing.

    The IHS continues to scale COVID-19 testing and contact tracing for Indian Country. IHS distributed 250

Abbott ID Now test machines through IHS area offices to Federal and Tribal health care facilities. Through these efforts, IHS testing has increased 10-fold over since April 1. Data reported from IHS, Tribal, and Urban Indian Organization facilities can be found here.

– For the first time in history, all ten FEMA regions are concurrently activated. Each of the ten FEMA regions has Regional Tribal Liaisons that have and continue to coordinate with Tribes located within that respective region. More here. FEMA has also dedicated a National Tribal Advisor Desk to help ensure Tribal response for COVID-19 in FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC).

– Response and recovery efforts are locally executed, State/Tribally managed, and federally supported. The White  House,  in  coordination  with  FEMA  and  Federal  Agency  partners,  provided  a  disaster  response primer  for  the  benefit  of  State,  Local,  and  Tribal  governments  to  navigate  the  COVID-19  response  and recovery process. FEMA has also provided specific guidance for Tribal Governments here and here.

– In support of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, FEMA and HHS/IHS are coordinating a whole-of- America approach to source PPE, ventilators, testing supplies, and other critical resources for States, Tribes, and Territories. The effort is led by Rear Admiral John Polowczyk of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and supported by Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee, Director, Indian Health Service. Project Air Bridge, a coordinated public-private partnership, is a key component of this strategy.

– Through  the  Strategic  National  Stockpile,  other  FEMA/HHS  procurements,  and  donations,  FEMA  has distributed  7.3  M  face  shields,  111.8  M  surgical  masks,  896,183  coveralls,  929.9  M  gloves,  65.5  M  N95 respirators, and 18.1 M gowns across the country. These distributions do not include efforts to support supply chains in every State through Project Air Bridge and other sources. More here.

    As of April 28, FEMA has obligated more than $358,000 in support of ongoing Tribal response efforts.

– FEMA, in coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and HHS/IHS, is providing direct support  to  Tribal  Governments  in  response  to  COVID-19.  For  example,  FEMA  and  Arizona  State  Health mission have assigned a Disaster Medical Task Force to Tuba City Regional Health Care and provided subject matter  expertise  and  other  assistance.  FEMA  has  also  deployed  two  Disaster  Medical  Assistance  Teams (DMAT), two 50 bed Federal Medical Stations, and 100 ventilators to assist in response and capacity efforts. HHS/IHS has deployed a liaison to assist the Navajo Nation Health Command Operations Center and assist with coordination.

Federal  Agency  Support:  The  Trump  Administration  continues  to  provide  unprecedented  resources, guidance, and regulatory flexibilities for State, local and Tribal governments to develop and deploy innovative solutions for COVID-19 response. To date, the Administration has distributed billions of dollars in resources and supplemental funding to Tribal Governments and entities.-     U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Indian Health Service (IHS)

· The IHS has allocated a total of $1.096 B from COVID-19 supplemental appropriations. On April 3, IHS began distributing $600 million of CARES Act funding to IHS, Tribal, and Urban Indian Organizations following  consultations  with  Tribal  governments.  On  April  24,  IHS  began  distributing  the  remaining

$367 M in CARES Act funds. On March 27, the IHS began distribution of the full $64 M provided in the second supplemental appropriation for COVID-19 testing.

· The IHS has and continues to provide guidance and resources to IHS, Tribal, and Urban Indian Health Organizations. Through partnership with Johns Hopkins University, IHS created COVID-19 materials for  Tribal  use  focused  on  community  prevention  education.  IHS  has  also  conducted  ten  COVID-19 webinars aimed at increasing prevention and treatment resources.

· The IHS has expanded telehealth across the agency. Telehealth services means patients can reduce their risk  of  infection  and  also  keep  healthcare  workers  and  others  in  waiting  rooms  and  emergency departments safe from COVID-19. It is also means frontline emergency physicians have instant access to critical care consultation across miles where the service has traditionally been very difficult to access.

· The  IHS  is  activating  Alternative  Healthcare  Sites  (ACS)  to  address  insufficient  ambulatory  care  or hospital capacity, as well as the need to screen and isolate select patients.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

· CDC is providing direct funding to Tribes and Tribal organizations to address COVID-19. As of April 28, CDC’s  COVID-19  spend  plan  for  Tribes  totals  more  than  $200  million  across  CARES  Act  and  other supplemental funding streams. Specific allocations include:

  • $10.4 M, including $8 million to the National Council of Urban Indian Health and sub-awards

to 41 Urban Indian Health Centers, through CDC’s existing cooperative agreement (more here);

  • $36 M, including to 11 regional Tribal organizations with capacity to each more than 500 Tribes and more than 2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives as well as funding to four Tribal nations serving populations of 40,000 or more through CDC’s existing cooperative agreement

(more here);

  • As of April 28, $1.17 M from $159 M in non-competitive grants to federally recognized Tribes, Tribal organizations, and bona fide agents (more here).

· CDC  is  providing  guidance,  training,  tools,  and  information  to  Tribes,  Tribal  organizations,  and individual  Tribal  members  to  assist  them  in  addressing  COVID-19.  Many  of  these  resources,  such  as guidance on Social Distancing for Tribal Communities with Local COVID-19 Transmission, can be found on CDC’s COVID-19 website.

· CDC is actively working with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR) to share information  and  gain  input  from  Tribal  leaders  on  the  challenges  Tribal  nations  are  experiencing  in addressing COVID-19.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

· CMS has approved waivers  under  the authority  granted  to  the Secretary in  section  1135  of  the  Social Security Act that provide a range of flexibilities in response to COVID-19. These waivers apply to Medicare and Medicaid providers, including IHS, Tribal and Urban Indian Programs that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. Examples of flexibilities include:

§  CMS is authorizing States and Territories to temporarily suspend Medicaid fee-for-service prior

authorization requirements through the termination of the emergency declaration.

§ CMS is temporarily waiving certain provider requirements in States and Territories. For example, States  and  Territories  may  request  that  CMS  temporarily  waive  payment  of  application  fee,

criminal  background  checks,  and  site  visits  to  temporarily  enroll  a  provider; permit  providers

located  out  of  State/Territory  to  provide  care  to  an  emergency  state’s  Medicaid  enrollee;

temporarily  ceasd  revalidation  of  providers  who  are  located  in  the  state  or  otherwise  directlyimpacted  by  the  emergency;  and,  temporarily  waive  requirements  that  physicians  and  other health care professionals be licensed in the state in which they are providing services, so long as they have equivalent licensing in another state.

Administration for Children and Families (ACF)

· Through  the  Administration  for  Native  Americans  (ANA),  ACF  supports  critical  programs  that  are important for Tribes and Native American communities as they respond to COVID-19. Specific resources, guidance, and programs offered through the ANA can be found here.

· ACF  is  hosting  calls  with  the  ACF  Tribal  Advisory  Committee  on  a  biweekly  basis  to  connect  Tribal regional  representatives  with  ACF  program  leadership  and  representative  to  discuss  ACF  COVID-19 response and communications.

· The CARES Act provided $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program for the prevention, preparedness, and response as it relates to child care programs on April 13, 2020. ACF awarded over $96 M of this supplemental funding to all Child Care Tribal grantees.  Lead Agencies can utilize this funding for, among other things, immediate assistance to child care providers to sustain their operations  during  decreased  enrolment  or  closures,  and  to  otherwise  support  child  care  for  families, including for healthcare workers, first responders, and others playing critical roles during this crisis.

·  As a result of the CARES Act, over $10 M in Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) COVID-

19 supplemental funding will be awarded to approximately 137 Tribes/Tribal communities.

· As  a  result  of  the  CARES  Act,  over  $5.6  M  in  Community  Service  Block  Grant  (CSBG)  COVID-19 supplemental funding will be awarded to approximately 96 Tribes/Tribal communities.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

· The HRSA is the primary  Federal agency for improving health care to people who are geographically isolated,   economically   or   medically   vulnerable.   The   Coronavirus   Preparedness   and   Response Supplemental Appropriations Act funding enabled HRSA to award $100 million to 1,381 health centers across the country. This included 35 Tribal and Urban Indian health centers that received over $2 M.

· The CARES Act provided HRSA with $1.32 B in emergency funding for 1,387 health centers across the country. As a result of this funding, 35 Tribal and Urban Indian health centers received over $22 M in supplemental  awards,  to  detect  coronavirus,  prevent,  diagnose,  and  treat  COVID-19,  and  maintain current health center capacity and staffing levels, for the duration of the national emergency.

Administration for Community Living (ACL)

· The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has distributed a total of $30 million from COVID-19 supplemental  appropriations  for  nutrition  and  supportive  services  to  elders  from  the  282  American Indian, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian organizations that receive grants from ACL. The funds must be used in order to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID pandemic. On April 20, ACL awarded

$20 million of CARES Act funding and on March 25, ACL distributed $10 million in the first round of

Coronavirus response funding. More here.

· ACL  has  also  coordinated  with  national  aging  organizations  to  provide  weekly  calls  with   Tribal organizations to discuss COVID response for Tribal elders.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

· On April 27, as part of its CARES Act Response grants, SAMHSA announced the distribution of over $22 million in funding to Tribes, Tribal organizations, and urban Indian health organizations to provide crisis intervention services, mental and substance use disorder treatment, and other related recovery supports for children and adults impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. SAMHSA received a tremendous response from Tribal entities and was able to award 50 Tribal programs from $100k to $500k for up to 16 months.· Additionally, through the CARES Act, SAMHSA will allocate $15 million to Tribes, Tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, or health or behavioral health service providers to Tribes.  SAMHSA has consulted with Tribes on this funding and is working on its expeditious release.

    U.S. Department of the Treasury (USDT)

· As of May 1, the Internal Revenue Service has issued over 127.5 million Economic Impact Payments (EIP) totaling  more  than  $216.7  billion  to  eligible  individuals  across  the  country.  Authorized  under  the CARES Act, EIPs are being automatically issued to eligible 2019 or 2018 Federal tax return filers who received  a  refund  using  direct  deposit.  Social  Security  recipients  who  do  not  file  tax  returns  will automatically receive economic impact payments. More here and here.

· Title V of the CARES Act provides $8 billion through the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to cover expenses  related  to  effective  COVID-19  preparedness  and  response  activities  and  programming  to support American Indians and Alaska Natives. Following two rounds of consultation with tribal leaders, on  May  5,  the  Department  of  the  Treasury  announced  the  beginning  of  distributions  to  Tribal governments in all states. More here.

    U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

· USDA is ensuring that Tribal citizens have food they need. USDA’s Food Nutrition Service (FNS) is in the process of disbursing $100 million for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservation (FDPIR) appropriated in the CARES Act, with $50 M going towards facility improvements and equipment grades and the other $50 M going towards additional costs related to additional food purchasing. Additionally, FNS is reviewing waivers for multiple nutrition programs, such as WIC, to ensure maximum flexibilities directly to Tribes.

· USDA has and continues to provide numerous flexibilities and resources to Tribal governments to ease program operations and protect the health of participants. A list of waivers broken down by Tribe can be found here.

· USDA published a COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide for rural residents, Tribal citizens, businesses, and communities to find information about Federal funding and partnership opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

· On April 17, Secretary Perdue joined President Trump in announcing the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers across States and Tribal governments in response to COVID-19. This $19 B relief program will provide $16 B in direct support based on actual losses  for  agricultural  producers  and  $3  B  in  purchases  of  fresh  produce,  dairy,  and  meat,  including producers in South Dakota.

    U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)

· The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) distributed more than $355 M of the $453 M it received in CARES Act funding directly to tribal governments in April to support their COVID-19 response efforts.

· The  CARES  Act  provides  $69  M  for  education-related  needs,  including  salaries,  equipment,  online curriculum development and other costs through the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to support the more than 46,000 tribal students, 183 BIE-funded schools, and tribal colleges and universities impacted by COVID-19.

    U.S. Department of Education (ED)

· To supplement the funds directly appropriated to the BIE, the CARES Act also provides support through the Education Stabilization Fund. In consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, the legislation directs the Secretary of Education to allocate $153.75 M to Interior for programs operated or funded by BIE. ED and  BIE  recently  concluded  a  joint  Tribal  listening  session  with  Tribes,  Tribal  organizations,  Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other stakeholders.· ED  granted  several  waivers  to  BIE  regarding  the  assessment,  accountability,  and  fiscal  requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). More here.

· In recognition of the widespread school closures faced by school districts nationwide due to COVID-19, the Department has extended the deadline for eligible school districts to submit applications for FY2020

OIE  Title  VI  Formula  Grant  funding.  The  Department  will  now  accept  OIE  Title  VI  Formula  Grant applications until the end of the day on June 19, 2020.

    U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

· The  U.S.  Department  of  Justice  (DOJ)  meets  monthly  with  the  Attorney  General’s  Tribal  Nations Leadership  Council  to  discuss  emergent  issues  in  Indian  country,  including  DOJ  support  for  Tribes during  the  COVID-19  global  pandemic.  Information  about  DOJ  funding  and  assistance  has  been disseminated  to  Tribes  in  each  of  the  Bureau  of  Indian  Affairs  (BIA)  regions  through  the  Leadership Council. Additionally, DOJ is assisting with the inter-governmental coordination of Tribal public safety efforts to minimize COVID-19 exposure on Reservations as appropriate.

· The U.S. Department of Justice’s United States Attorney’s Offices are continuing their efforts, along with their Federal and state law enforcement partners, to coordinate with Tribal governments on public safety issues and to prosecute violent crime in Indian Country, especially domestic violence. Additionally, the Department’s U.S. Attorney’s Offices are engaging Tribal leaders and Tribal law enforcement within their districts  to  offer  support  and  explore  ways  in  which  the  Department  can  assist  our  Tribal  partners impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

· The  Bureau  of  Justice  Assistance  (BJA)  received  $850  M  through  the  CARES  Act  for  the  purpose  of assisting  state,  local,  and  Tribal  jurisdictions  with  preventing,  preparing  for,  and  responding  to  the coronavirus.  The  BJA  quickly  developed  the  Coronavirus  Emergency  Supplemental  Funding  (CESF) program  that  will  provide  funding  to  all  fifty  states,  six  territories,  and  over  1,800  local  and  Tribal jurisdictions across the nation. Seventeen Tribes from seven states will be eligible applicants for the CESF grant funding totaling $1,892,805. Ten of the seventeen Tribal applications have been started, and BJA staff continues outreach and application assistance to the remaining Tribes as needed. More here.

· In  response  to  feedback  received  over  the  past  several  years  from  Tribal  leaders  in  a  series  of  Tribal consultations, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) will allocate $118 M from the FY 2020 Tribal Victim Services  Set-Aside  (TVSSA)  funding  through  a  discretionary  administrative  formula.  The  formula responds directly to concerns raised by Tribal leaders that Tribes not be required to compete against each other  for  OVC  funding,  and  that  OVC  ensure  that  the  maximum  available  set-aside  funding  be disseminated directly to Tribes. More here.

    U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

· With funding authorization under the CARES Act, the SBA created additional loan/funding programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), to assist small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The PPP  is  available  to  small  businesses,  501(c)(3)  nonprofit  organizations,  veterans’  organizations,  sole proprietors, and independent contractors, including Tribal business concerns.

· With an initial authorization of $349 B, SBA executed more loans to small businesses across the country in  14  days  than  the  agency  had  in  14  years.  SBA  is  currently  issuing  Round  II  of  PPP  loans  with  an additional  $310  B  in  authorized  funding.  In  total,  SBA  has  approved  over  3.8  million  loans  to  small businesses totaling more than $500 B.

·  SBA has approved Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance (EIDL) declarations as it relates to COVID-

19 for every State. The declarations make SBA loans available statewide to small businesses and private, nonprofit organizations to help alleviate economic injury caused by the coronavirus. More here.

    U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)

· The CARES Act allocated $50 M to the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a National Institute   of   Standards   and   Technology   (NIST)   program,   to   help   manufacturers   respond   to   the coronavirus. For assistance, U.S. Tribal manufacturers should contact their local MEP Center.· The CARES Act  provided the  Economic Development Administration (EDA)  with  $1.5  B  to “prevent, prepare, and respond to coronavirus.”  In the coming weeks, EDA will accept applications for grants from  eligible  entities,  including  Tribal  groups,  to  support  a  wide  variety  of  economic  development assistance. EDA also intends to directly contact and provide special instructions to Tribal groups on how to receive funds for economic recovery planning and coordination under the CARES Act.

· The Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) continues to do its part keeping  America  safe  and  resilient  while  encouraging  minority  owned  businesses  to  do  the  same. Currently, MBDA offers its services to American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) entrepreneurs through a network of business development projects targeted specifically to AIAN businesses located across the country.   Each  project  offers  a  range  of  services  to  AIAN  businesses,  including  technical  assistance, business consulting, access to capital and procurement opportunities, and strategic partnerships.  More here.

· The CARES Act authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to provide $300 M in appropriated funds to assist fishery  participants  affected  by  COVID-19.  The  National  Oceanic  and  Atmospheric  Administration (NOAA)  is  currently  operationalizing  distribution  of  this  supplemental  assistance.  Additional  and updated information can be found here. Other provisions in the CARES Act will help NOAA maintain continuity of operations and support the continued success of our nation’s fisheries.

· The U.S. Census Bureau is planning a listening session with federally and state recognized Tribes, and AIAN organizations across the country.   This listening session continues ongoing communication with an  update  on  2020  Decennial  Operations,  the  2020  Disclosure  Avoidance  System  (DAS)  and  the geographic hierarchy of DAS.

    U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

· In  FY  20,  the  Federal  Transit  Authority  (FTA)  apportioned  $32,604,193  in  funding  under  the  Tribal formula  to  eligible  recipients  for  capital,  operating,  planning,  and  administrative  expenses  for  public transit projects that meet the growing needs of rural Tribal communities. More here. With additional authorizations under the CARES Act, FTA provided another $30 M to eligible recipients for qualified expenses. FTA is permitting Tribes to use funds for meal delivery or other essential deliveries for a 6- month period from January 20, 2020.

· On April 14, 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced CARES Act grant allocations, including 22 grants for Tribal airport sponsors totaling $470  K.   This funding will help these general aviation  airports  prevent,  prepare  for,  and  respond  to  the  impacts  of  the  COVID-19  public  health emergency.

· On April 17, 2020, the BIA Indian Highway Safety Program requested the first flexibility in use of traffic safety  equipment  for  COVID-19  response  activities. The  majority  of  NHTSA-funded  Tribal  grants,

totaling  approximately  $5  M  annually,  are  used  for  traffic  enforcement  and  child  passenger  safety programs.

    U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

· With the $19.6 B allocated under the CARES Act, the VA is hiring new staff and procuring additional resources to deal with the evolving needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes expanding free or subsidized telehealth services and waiving a requirement  that VA State homes maintain a 90 percent occupancy rate in order to receive Federal benefits for times when the Veteran is not in the home. More here.

·   The VA traditionally provides Veterans’ healthcare, benefits and memorial affairs. In times of national

crisis, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, VA provides services to the Nation based on requests from States, while being clear that Veterans are our first priority. This is known as VA’s Fourth Mission. In coordination with the Indian Health Service, the VA is exploring  Tribal engagement opportunities, including surge planning in the Albuquerque, Navajo, and Oklahoma City Areas.

· The U.S. Department of the Treasury and VA announced that VA benefit recipients across the Nation will automatically receive $1,200 in Economic Impact Payments provided for under the CARES Act.· On April 3, the VA announced a number of actions to provide Native American and all Veterans across the Nation with financial, benefits and claims help as part of the VA’s COVID-19 response. The financial relief  actions  include    until  further  notice    (i)  suspending  all  actions  on  Veteran  debts  under  the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department and (ii) suspending collection action or extending repayment terms on preexisting VA debts, as the Veteran prefers. More here.

    U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

· The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is assisting Tribes with their planning and response  efforts  to  COVID-19  by  providing  direct  technical  assistance  and  response  for  emergency communications. This support included the development of 911 communication and practice standard guides for Tribal emergency communications dispatch and the development of communications guidance for alternate care sites and facilities. More here.

· On  March  16,  CISA  updated  critical  infrastructure  guidance  in  response  to  the  COVID-19 emergency. The guidance is intended to help State, local, and Tribal officials to protect their communities, while  ensuring  continuity  of  functions  critical  to  public  health  and  safety,  as  well  as  economic  and national   security.    DHS/CISA   continues   to    engage   stakeholders   on   the   guidance   and   issue revised/updated versions.

· The  Homeland  Security  Information  Network  (HSIN)  is  supporting  Tribal  communities  by  providing information  sharing  solutions  to  support  the  virtual  emergency  operations  center  for  COVID-19 situational awareness, planning and coordination among five Tribal nations in the Greater Duluth area (Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Chippewa, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe).

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

· On April 3, HUD announced grants to more than 500 Tribes of $200 M in supplemental Indian House Block Grants (IHBG-CARES). The funding primarily benefits low income American Indian families and is for Tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) to carry out activities to protect the safety and  health  of  their  Tribal  members  and  communities.  Tribes  and  TDHEs  in  accordance  with  the implementation notice.

· HUD  will  soon  begin  accepting  applications  for  $100  M  in  supplemental  CARES  Act  funding  for  the Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG-CARES) program. This funding provides support to Tribes and Tribal organizations across the country to respond to imminent threats related to COVID-


· HUD  has  issued  multiple  waivers  and  alternative  requirements  of  statutory  and  regulatory provisions to facilitate and expedite the use of funds under both the IHBG-CARES and ICDBG-CARES programs to help address COVID-19 in Tribal communities.

· HUD has also taken many steps to  protect Native American homeowners impacted by the COVID-19 emergency to allow them to stay stably housed in their homes.  This includes imposing an initial 60-day foreclosure moratorium and a 120-day eviction moratorium under the Department’s Section 184 Indian Home  Loan  Guarantee  Program.  HUD  is  developing  guidance  that  will  be  issued  very  soon  allowing borrowers  to  seek  forbearance  relief  under  their  mortgage  loans  for  up  to  360  days,  consistent  with Section 4022 under the CARES Act, and much more.

·  Additional resources and guidance from HUD’s Office of Native American Programs can be found here

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

·  DOE’s Cybersecurity Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) continues to coordinate with

State, local, and Tribal governments on energy security, preparedness, and response and provide COVID-

19 response updates. On April 17, CESER held a briefing call for Tribal leadership.

· DOE’s  Energy  Emergency  Assurance  Coordinators  (EEAC)  Program  is  communicating  broadly  with State,  local,  and  Tribal  governments  and  sharing  access  to  information  on  energy  supply,  demand, pricing, and infrastructure.

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