Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

U.S. awards $300,000 to the Mille Lacs Band


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration awarded $300,000 to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to prepare, prevent and respond to COVID-19 in rural tribal communities in Minnesota.

Nationally, $15 million was awarded to 52 tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, and other health services providers to tribes across 20 states.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said, “Today’s funding gives tribes critical support to build up their capacity for fighting COVID-19, boost testing capabilities, increase purchases of PPE, and hire and pay the personnel they need.”

These awards are funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that President Trump signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020. HRSA made awards to Federally Recognized Tribes and other tribal organizations based on their needs and capacity to implement COVID-19 related activities in their rural communities. Tribes could request up to $300K in funding for these activities through the Rural Tribal COVID-19 Response (RTCR) program.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many tribal communities, particularly in rural areas, very hard,” said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. “By directing new resources to these areas we are hoping to make a difference that will result in fewer new infections of this pernicious virus.”

The RTCR program funding allows tribes flexibility in how they respond to COVID-19 within their communities.

Activities include supporting their workforce by ensuring access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and offering overtime and hazard pay, building infrastructure to include maximizing telehealth services; increasing their capacity to test and isolate suspected COVID-19 patients, purchasing mobile clinics or vehicles for transporting COVID-19 patients to increase access to health care services and providing culturally-informed educational resources and information to promote behaviors that slow the spread of the virus.


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