More than 240,000 Navajos apply for tribal virus relief funding


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — About three-quarters of Navajos enrolled with the tribe have applied for financial assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The deadline to file an application is Monday. Already, more than 240,000 have been submitted online or on paper, the Navajo Nation Office of the Controller said.

The tribe has about 327,000 members, making it one of the largest of the 574 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. It has about $90 million available for hardship assistance that comes from the Navajo Nation’s share of a federal coronavirus relief package.

The average payment would be $454 for adults and $151 for minors, according to the controller’s website. But the decision is expected to be made based on need, up to $1,500 for adults and $500 for children.

More money could be added to the fund next month if other projects fall through. Tribes nationwide have until Dec. 30 to spend money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

The Navajo Nation leadership announced Tuesday that a separate economic relief program specifically for entrepreneurs, businesses, and artisans has awarded money from the federal act to more than 4,000 qualifying applicants.

Navajo artisans meeting eligibility requirements received up to $5,000 for financial emergencies including the endangerment of essentials such as housing, medicine, food, and childcare. Qualifying businesses got up to $10,000 to $60,000.

The Navajo Nation reported 197 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and no new deaths. That brings the total number of positive cases on the reservation that extends into New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah at 15,236 and 631 deaths.

Residents remain under a stay-at-home order this week, with an exception for essential workers and essential needs like food, medication, and emergencies. Essential businesses also have been ordered to limit their hours to between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily. A mask requirement has been in place for much of the year.

Indian Health Service facilities on the reservation are offering drive-through COVID-19 testing this week.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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