NESPELEM, WA – The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation announces it has received funding intended to provide relief from the impact of COVID-19, including $28,305,916.75 in CARES Act funding. The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act is a federal law passed to provide emergency economic relief to governments, businesses, and workers and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CARES Act money comes with guidelines on how it must be spent. The money may only be used for expenses incurred as a result of the coronavirus outbreak between the dates of March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020. Authorized expenditures of CARES Act funding include such costs as payroll for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The money may not be used to cover lost revenue, such as income lost due to closure of a casino or other tribal enterprise, or for expenses that were previously budgeted and anticipated. The Act prohibits the use of the funds for per capita distributions to tribal members. All expenditures of the money are subject to audit by the federal government and to repayment if spent improperly.
The CARES Act earmarked $8 billion dollars for relief payments to tribes across the country. Exact payments to individual tribes were allocated out of that fund by the United States Department of the Treasury. Treasury has now distributed 60 percent of the $8 billion dollars to tribes with 40 percent remaining to be distributed. For the first payment of 60 percent of the money, Treasury determined the allocation to individual tribes based on population, with a minimum payment of $100,000 to every tribe. The remaining 40 percent will be determined based on employment and expenditures data of tribes and tribally-owned entities. Reports indicate the payment of the remaining 40 percent may come around June 5th but an official date has not yet been set.
Rodney Cawston, Chairman of the Colville Business Council, said, “No government budgeted this year for a long-term shutdown due to a pandemic and the Colville Tribe has suffered many impacts. Many difficult decisions had to be made, including placing staff on administrative leave, telework, ‘standby’ and laying off many of our CTFC employees. I also need to acknowledge many of our employees who continue to work to keep the tribe functioning, addressing the needs of our tribal members who tested positive or were presumptive positive. Many of these employees have worked many long hours preparing proposals and grant applications to apply for stimulus funding. I also cannot thank enough our Incident Command Team, our Emergency Operations Center, our tribal health programs, and each of our four clinical facilities who continue to do an excellent job addressing all of the public and clinical health pandemic issues. Our Executive Staff, Attorneys, lobbyists, and members of Council have spent hundreds of hours on teleconferences and webinars, lobbying both state and federal congress for stimulus funding and making comments on many emergent issues. Although we have felt many impacts, we have also done everything we could early on, and I believe this has resulted in a low number of positive cases on our reservation. These funds are very welcome and appreciated, but more will be necessary to fully offset the economic loss caused by this pandemic and to prepare us and our schools for a future virtual world. Presently we are working now on how best to address telework, telehealth, and distant learning by improving broadband infrastructure throughout our reservation. We continue to ask for your prayers and ask everyone to continue social distancing, refrain from unnecessary travel and practice good hygiene in the home and when you have to go out into our communities.”
In addition to the CARES Act funding, the Colville Tribes has received funding amounts in excess of a million dollars from each of: the Bureau of Indian Affairs in regard to Tribal Court, the HUD Office of Native American Program, and Indian Health Services.
Funding amounts $100,000 or greater, but less than a million dollars, have been received from: the Health Resources and Services Administration for Health Center CARES Act funding and also from HRS Expanding Capacity for Coronavirus Testing, the Department of Health and Human Services for low income energy assistance, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, the Bureau of Indian Affairs GA Assistance Funds, and the Washington State Department of Commerce.
Funding amounts less than $100,000 have been received from the Northwest Portland Association Indian Health Board, the HRS Coronavirus Supplemental Funding for Health Centers, the Department of Health and Human Services Title VI Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Innovia Foundation COVID-19 Community Response Fund, ARCORA (the foundation of Delta Dental of Washington), the COVID-19 Community Support Fund of North Central Accountable Community of Health, and Avista. Other grants are anticipated but not yet final.