Congress enacted the CARES Act on March 27, 2020 to provide funding for tribal, state, and local governments and individuals to address the health and economic emergencies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, America is enduring the third and highest spike in virus infections and deaths. Tribal, state, and local governments are forced to re-impose economic restrictions to stop the spread of the virus and protect the health and safety of their communities.
At the same time, a number of provisions in the CARES Act have been depleted or are set to expire in the coming weeks. We ask that you consider reaching out to your congressional delegation, urging them to extend CARES Act provisions for Indian Country, and enact additional funding to help tribal governments address the ongoing health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
Background. In the eight months since passage of the CARES Act, 11.5 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, and the virus has taken more than 250,000 American lives. Native Americans suffer infection and serious complications at per capita rates five times the national average. In Native communities, roughly 20 percent of deaths are now COVID-19 related.
Americans have regained less than half of the 22 million jobs lost in the early months of the pandemic from March – May of 2020. The majority of those still unemployed had jobs in the hospitality industry upon which many tribal governments rely to generate revenue for essential community services and programs. The third wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic is inflicting more devastating health and economic impacts on Native communities.
Congress has only 2-3 weeks remaining in the 116th Session. Negotiations on the next COVID-Relief package have been stalled for months. If Congress fails to extend and add funding to several key programs established in the CARES Act, tribal governments, residents of Indian Country, and our employees will continue to suffer the health and economic fallout from the virus.
To help press Congress to act before the end of the 116th Session, we ask that you consider writing your Senators and Representatives, urging them to enact a COVID-Relief package that: extends the December 31, 2020 deadline to spend CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) allocations to tribal, state, and local governments; includes a second round of CRF funding to tribal, state, and local governments that maintains the 5.5 percent set aside for Indian tribes; and provides additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Attached is a template letter for your consideration. Please send a blind carbon copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.