However, the controller’s office for the Navajo Nation is working to release hardship assistance checks this week to eligible older tribal members, according to The Farmington Daily Times.
The tribal president’s office said that the planned rollout of the funds was postponed due to the office being short-staffed after several employees tested positive for COVID-19.
Last week, per the paper, acting Controller Elizabeth Begay acknowledged the staffing issues in a January 19 report to the Budget and Finance Committee.
“We got behind because we had COVID breakout here in my office,” she said.
Meanwhile, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that “we have employees who are required to quarantine, isolate and work from home due to infections and exposures.”
He later admitted that “we understand that our elders need relief now and our employees are working hard, but we have to take safety precautions as well.”
These stimulus checks, which amount to roughly $300 per eligible adult age 60 or older, are from funds left from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
More Payments on Way
There are more stimulus payments on the way for the Navajo Nation, though. Its tribal council recently approved issuing $2,000 checks to each qualified adult and $600 for each child. The money will come from the $557 million in federal coronavirus relief funds.
“It has been over eight months since President Joe Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act and our Navajo people should not suffer another day without knowing how their government will assist them as they suffer from grief, mental health and financial hardship,” Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty said in a statement.
Approximately two hundred fifty thousand adults will each receive $2,000 checks and parents or guardians of ninety-five thousand tribal members under the age of eighteen will get $600 for each child.
States Stepping In
Most of the country won’t be receiving $2,000 stimulus checks like the Navajo Nation, but some states have taken the initiative to issue their own direct stimulus payments to residents on a much smaller scale. They include the states of Maine, California, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Tennessee.
California recently disbursed another round of Golden State stimulus checks of $1,100 to residents who earned less than $75,000 last year. Governor Gavin Newsom has also hinted that more stimulus payments could be approved.
“We expect in the May revise language when I update the budget that we are likely to have an additional rebate to the taxpayers,” Newsom told reporters earlier this month.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.