Arizona Indigenous Lawmakers call for investigation into faulty personal protection equipment sent to Navajo Nation
Arizona Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus
The Arizona Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus released the following statement after news that thousands of faulty breathing masks were sent to the Navajo Nation.
“The Arizona Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus is greatly disturbed at recent news that nearly 250,000 breathing masks delivered to the Navajo Nation earlier this month may not be suitable for medical use and that another 130,000 masks are also possibly unusable.
We are deeply alarmed at the ongoing crisis happening on the Navajo Nation and the appalling lack of action and assistance from not only the federal government, but from the Arizona Governor’s Office. As of May 28th, the Navajo Department of Health has reported 102 new cases of coronavirus on the Navajo Nation and one more known death, pushing the numbers to 4,944 positive COVID-19 cases and 159 deaths. Despite these ever-growing numbers, we are seeing the state return to normal and just today the Grand Canyon National Park announced additional actions to increase recreational access. We have concerns about how the Grand Canyon National Park is going to protect not only the Navajo Nation, but all tribes that reside inside the park and at the bottom of the Canyon, from visitors passing through and possibly spreading COVID-19. This is especially critical when healthcare facilities are already at capacity in Flagstaff, Page, and Tuba City.
There is still a crisis here in Arizona. The Governor’s rosy outlook ignores the fact that the Navajo Nation now has the highest per-capita COVID-19 infection rate in U.S., outpacing New York. In light of this reality, the Navajo Nation is being sent unusable personal protection equipment to protect themselves. The Indigenous Peoples Caucus call for an immediate state and federal investigation into why the Navajo Nation was sent faulty PPE by a company owned by Josh Fuentes, a former deputy chief of staff for President Trump and further, a company that had no experience in production or delivery of PPE. The Caucus demands to know what the Arizona and federal government’s plan is to not only get sufficient PPE to the Navajo Nation, but the plan to help the Tribal Governments across Arizona respond to COVID-19.
We should not have to rely on the kindness of other countries or corporations to send the Navajo Nation critical supplies to protect ourselves, and yet we see our own government treating this problem with a lack of urgency and attention that is proving deadly to our people. The health and safety of our indigenous brothers and sisters should never be set aside as an afterthought.”