Navajo Nation continues to be COVID-19 hotspot for Indian Country

Navajo Nation saw an increase of 51 positive COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to 321 positive tests, according to the Navajo Department of Health and Navajo Area Indian Health Service and Navajo Epidemiology Center.

In a press release from Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, the Navajo Police Department is starting to give citations and fines to people who do not adhere to the “stay-at-home” order. A daily curfew has been enacted for all Navajo Nation residents that calls for them to stay inside their homes between the hours of 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

President Nez said people need to “think about the elderly and children” before making the decision to go out.

“This is a matter of life and death, especially for those who have underlying health issues. Before you consider going out for any reason, think of the well-being of your elders and your children. Be mindful that the numbers we are seeing are two to three days old due to the delay in test results for COVID-19. We are demanding that rapid testing be offered immediately and that testing laboratories be established in our communities,” President Nez said in the press release.

Tribal gaming could be eligible for Payroll Protection Program Small Business Association forgivable loans under the CARES Act

Quotes from letter from Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico

“Appropriate implementation of the eligibility provisions of the new Payroll Protection Program is especially important in remote rural areas of the country, including rural Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Louisiana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and California, among others, where Indian Tribes operate gaming facilities mainly to provide employment in impoverished reservation areas,” said Rep. Lujan.

“In these rural areas, these jobs are essential because they provide a livelihood for hundreds of families where unemployment would otherwise reach above 50 to 75 percent. In addition, Tribal businesses, including gaming facilities, create a critical revenue stream for vital Tribal government services, including education, law enforcement, senior citizen services, sanitation, administration, and other community services. Without a sustained funding stream to prop up these critical measures, Tribal governments cannot safeguard the health and safety of their citizenry during the coronavirus crisis.”

“We appreciate your assistance in ensuring that the important public health and economic relief provisions of the Paycheck Protection Program are fully implemented for Indian tribes and their tribal business concerns. Under the expanded eligibility rules for the Paycheck Protection Program, all of our Indian tribes that operate tribal business concerns with fewer than 500 employees, including those engaged in gaming and resort tourism, should be recognized as eligible for the program in accordance with the express directive by Congress.”

Tribes take ask and take onus to restrict travel on and off their lands 

Blackfeet Tribe is asking people not to travel to their reservation during the COVID-19 pandemic

Eastern Band of Cherokee implements lockdown procedures - one way in, one way out

What you need to know today about the virus outbreak

Associated Press

As the number of infections from the new coronavirus has grown to more than 1.1 million worldwide, health care systems are straining under the surge of patients and lack of medical equipment like ventilators, protective masks, and gloves. All of which has heightened concerns about the exposure of hospital personnel.

In the U.S., governors are describing in stark terms the dog-eat-dog global marketplace they must navigate for the protective gear doctors, nurses and other front-line medical workers need as they brace for an expected wave of patients afflicted with severe cases of COVID-19.

U.S. medical experts estimate the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic could reach 240,000 nationwide. The question of where to put the bodies is a major concern as cities, hospitals and private medical groups clamor to secure additional storage.

Trump meets with commissioners of professional sports leagues

President Donald J. Trump held a conference call Saturday with the leaders of major sports leagues.

According to the White House, President Trump discussed the leagues respective responses to COVID-19 and recognized the actions each took to protect their players and fans.

“The President recognized the good work being done by many teams and players to care for their communities, workforces, and fan bases across the Nation. The commissioners thanked President Trump for his national leadership and for his interest in the sports industry. President Trump encouraged them to continue to support their fellow Americans during this challenging time,” the pool report said.

The NBA was the first league to postpone its season on March 11.

As the country disinfects, diabetes patients can’t find rubbing alcohol

Kaiser Health News

While the masses hunt for toilet paper, Caroline Gregory and other people with diabetes are on a different mission: scouring stores for the rubbing alcohol or alcohol swabs needed to manage their disease.

Gregory stopped in Carlie C’s, Dollar General and then Harris Teeter in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in pursuit of this vital component of her medical routine.

“We’re all supposed to be staying at home, and I’m out going to 10 different stores,” said Gregory, 33, whose diabetes could heighten her risk for COVID-19 complications. “That’s also not safe.”

Related: As the country disinfects, diabetes patients can’t find rubbing alcohol 

Hunt for medical supplies creates a marketplace of desperation

Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Shady middlemen, phantom shipments, prices soaring by the hour, goods are flown in on a private plane.

What sounds like an organized-crime thriller is now the new reality for governors desperately trying to find the medical equipment their states need in the throes of a pandemic. With the federal stockpile dwindling fast, and the Trump administration limiting access to what’s left, state leaders are going to extraordinary measures on their own to secure face masks, ventilators, gloves and other equipment essential to fighting the outbreak.

They’ve ventured into a global market-place one governor described as the “wild, wild, west,” only to compete against each other and their own federal government. They’ve watched the price of ventilators double and masks go for 10 times their original price. They’ve turned to rich friends and businesses for help. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker enlisted NFL owner Robert Kraft to send the Patriots team plane to China to retrieve over a million masks.

In New York, an epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., Gov. Andrew Cuomo has looked closer to home to secure ventilators, issuing an order that forces even private hospitals to redistribute ventilators to the hospitals most in need.

“Let them sue me,” Cuomo said.

Military recruiting struggles as enlistment stations close

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lolita C. Baldor

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Meyer does his best recruiting face-to-face. He can look people in the eye, read their body language and get insight into whether they would make a good Marine.

But coronavirus quarantines have shut down most recruiting stations. So Meyer and other recruiters have turned increasingly to social media. And that has its drawbacks.

“They usually won’t run away if you’re talking to them in person,” said Meyer, noting that if they are online or on the phone, they can just hang up. “They just stop responding, and the conversation just ends without a conclusion.”

As the coronavirus pandemic worsens and the country turns increasingly to the military for help, America’s armed services are struggling to get new recruits as families and communities hunker down. Recruiters scrounging for recruits online are often finding people too consumed with their own financial and health care worries to consider a military commitment right now.

The services, as a result, could fall thousands short of their enlistment goals if the widespread lockdowns drag on, forcing them to pressure current troops to stay on in order to maintain military readiness.

Related: Military recruiting struggles as enlistment stations close 

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Vincent Schilling, Kolby KickingWoman, Kaiser Health News and the Associated Press contributed to this report