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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01)

June 4, 2020

Press Release

VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK— Yesterday, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), along with Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) and Congressman Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) held a conference call with FEMA leadership to discuss the significant delay tribal communities have experienced receiving COVID-19 resources and PPE from the federal government during this global pandemic.

Speaking with the Representatives were the Deputy Director of the Resource Support Section at the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) and FEMA’s National Joint Information Center Tribal Liaison Officer.

“Within Arizona’s First Congressional District there are 12 federally recognized tribes, including the Navajo Nation, which is currently experiencing the largest COVID-19 outbreak per capita in the nation,” said Congressman O’Halleran.“Tribal communities are sick and tired of partisan games and political spin; they need the resources they were promised so each sovereign nation can care for their people. I will continue to work with my colleagues to hold FEMA accountable.”

On the call, O’Halleran asked about the agency’s plan is for the fall of 2020 and how they are working to make sure resources are available for a potential second spike of COVID-19 cases. He also asked why the Navajo Nation was delayed in receiving PPE and if there were plans in place to prevent future delays.

“The fact is Native communities have been left behind for decades and are disproportionally impacted by this pandemic. With each day that  FEMA and the CDC fail to get resources to them, they are falling further and further behind.  It’s costing lives,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Vice Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee.“We continue to hear from Tribes and Tribal organizations that they are not only running into roadblocks to get PPE and funding, but many times those resources aren’t getting to communities at all. Today’s calls shed light on the continued failure to ensure Native communities have what they need during this public health emergency, and there’s a lack of tribal consultation and clear guidelines. It’s been more than two full months since we passed the CARES Act – FEMA and the CDC need to get supplies and funding to Tribes now.”

“Tribes have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis – from health outcomes, to supply shortages, to economic hardship. And reported delays and lack of Tribal consultation at FEMA have worsened these problems and potentially endangered lives,” said Congressman Ruben Gallego. “We are committed to holding FEMA accountable to the trust responsibility and working them and other agencies to improve their ability to help Tribes respond to public health crises.”