By TRIBAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS
FORT HALL — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes (Tribes) is eligible for COVID-19 relief funding from several funding sources.
Title V CARES Act: The Tribes recently received $13.7 million, a portion of the US Treasury Title V CARES Act funding, which is 60% of the allocated amount for the Tribes. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated the formula used to allocate funding provided 60% was based on tribal population, and the remaining 40% is based on employment numbers of tribal government and tribally-owned entities and will be distributed at a later date. The Treasury is withholding an unknown amount pending final resolution to the litigation surrounding the eligibility of Alaskan Native Corporations to the CARES Act funding.
The Fort Hall Business Council will follow established US Treasury guidelines on allowable cost and the intent of address COVID-19 impacts as Congress intended. All expenditures must be directly related to COVID-19 impacts, but cannot be used for per caps or to recoup lost revenue.
PPP: It has been important for the Business Council to provide continued employment for tribal entities. To help recoup costs for continued employment, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was finally expanded to include tribal gaming operations. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribal entities did submit loan applications for the Hotel, the Tribal Enterprises, and the Casino. The Hotel and Casino’s loan applications are pending. Tribal Enterprise did receive final approval from a lender under the PPP and are developing plans to utilize the funding in accordance with the CARES Act. The PPP provides funding to payroll, employee benefit costs and utilities. The PPP was designed as a loan, and if the employer retains employees for 8 weeks, then the loan is forgiven.
Idaho CRF: Another funding source in the CARES Act is Section 5001, called the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) which Congress allocated $150 billion, which is being administered by the State of Idaho. The Idaho Coronavirus Relief Fund is pass-through dollars and is available to the five Idaho tribes. The tribal allocations are intended to cover expenditures that the tribes incurred due to COVID-19 that was not accounted for in regular budgets and occurred during March 1 to December 30, 2020. The Tribes are considering the concerns and benefits of applying for these State of Idaho funds but has not applied at this point.
FORT HALL — The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Emergency Operations Center (EOC) team provided the following update:
The Fort Hall Business Council has extended safety leave and stay at home order until May 15. Employees are asked to stay in touch with their supervisors for further details and information. Other employment-related questions should be directed to the Personnel Department at 208-478-3850.
The Tribal Government re-opens on Monday, May 18 with added safety shields placed within certain departments that have high traffic.
Extensive COVID-19 related trainings will be offered to tribal employees. A training video on how to use personal protective and equipment is being developed. All tribal employees are required to attend the personal protective and equipment training, as a part of the Tribal Return to Work plans. Directors and managers are responsible for ensuring all their employees are trained in best management practices for COVID-19.
Currently, the HRSA Community Clinic has conducted 125 tests for essential departments, such as Fort Hall Police, Fire/EMS, Fish and Game, and Corrections. As of Tuesday, May 12, all COVID-19 testing came back negative. Please note that testing is only a current snap shot of employee health status.
Fort Hall Indian Health Services Not-Tsoo Gah-nee Indian Health Center has received COVID-19 funds for COVID-19 response, testing, equipment and maintenance. I.H.S conducted 21 tests to date with 19 negative, 1 classified as recovered, and 1 positive non-Sho-Ban member residing off-reservation in Bannock County and being followed up by SIPH District 6.
The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Personnel Department has contacted Health Management Administrators (HMA) regarding the Antibody body testing and HMA confirmed that the antibody test is 100% covered for Tribal Government employees.
What is an antibody test? An Antibody test detects antibodies in the blood when the body is responding to a specific infection, such as Covid-19. However, antibody tests are not recommended for COVID-19 diagnosis. The test does not check for the COVID-19 virus. Instead, it looks to see whether your immune system has responded to the infection. There are several urgent care centers in Pocatello and Blackfoot that offer this antibody test. Information is posted on the Tribes Facebook page for the location hours, location and phone numbers.
Friday, May 15 at 10 a.m., Chairman Tino Batt and Robbie Moss, Public Information Officer will provide weekly updates on COVID-19 in Fort Hall. It is streamed live on the Tribes Facebook page, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Q&A are taken from the comments towards the end.
The Tribes highly advise the community to keep safe and take the following preventative precautions:
All residents of the Fort Hall Reservation are required to stay at home and leave home only when absolutely necessary for health, safety, or welfare as described herein.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay at home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
• Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing or have been in a public place (Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue). If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
• Clean and disinfect your home frequently touched objects and surfaces.
• Avoid public gathering (recommendation from CDC is 10 people or less).
• Avoid all non-essential Travel.
For any health concerns, please call the Idaho COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-330-3010.