Judge blocks companies from getting virus funds for tribes

By Ronald J. Hansen | Arizona Republic 

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., temporarily blocked for-profit Alaska companies from receiving any part of $8 billion in virus relief funds intended for tribal governments. 

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta

The decision late Monday was a victory, at least for the moment, for Indian communities that have been ravaged by the novel coronavirus, including the Navajo Nation, which has among the highest infection rates in the U.S.

The Navajo Department of Health said that as of Sunday there were 1,716 known coronavirus infections across the reservation and 59 people had died. Those numbers don’t include cases from towns that border the reservation.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled that Alaska Native Corporations were not the intended recipients of the emergency aid passed by Congress to help deal with the pandemic.

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