August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Friday, July 31, 2020

The White House distributed contaminated coronavirus test kits, involving a secretive purchase





The White House distributed contaminated masks following a secretive purchase deal, reports Vanity Fair, exposing the role of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. This comes as Native women in Minnesota protest Ivanka Trump, saying she is attempting to co-opt the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women's movement in a political ploy.

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Photo: Coronavirus testing on Navajo Nation

The White House distributed contaminated coronavirus test kits from China, purchased through a secretive deal with the United Arab Emirates embassy, Vanity Fair reports.


The question remains if these were the same tests that Trump gave Navajo Vice President Myron Lizer at the Native Nations meeting in Phoenix on May 5. Censored News has asked both the Navajo President's Office and Navajo Nation Council press office and awaits their responses.

Previously it was exposed that Indian Health Service sent Navajo hospitals defective masks from China, purchased from a former White House adviser.

Since the pandemic began there have been 454 Navajo deaths from the virus and a total of 9,019 cases. The high death rate for Navajos continued during July.

The White House ordered millions of  coronavirus tests, which were contaminated and unusable. Still, those test kits were sent out to many states, Vanity Fair reports.

The coronavirus testing kits for the White House arrived at the United Arab Emirates embassy in DC, after being purchased from China, without going through federal purchase procedures, Vanity Fair reports in its article, How Jared Kushner's testing plan went poof into thin air.

"This purchase did not appear in any government database. Nor was there any contract officer involved. Instead, it was documented in an invoice obtained by Vanity Fair, from a company, Cogna Technology Solutions (its own name misspelled as “Tecnology” on the bill), which noted a total order of 3.5 million tests for an amount owed of $52 million. The “client name” simply noted 'WH.”

"Over the next three months, the tests’ mysterious provenance would spark confusion and finger-pointing. An Abu Dhabi–based artificial intelligence company, Group 42, with close ties to the UAE’s ruling family, identified itself as the seller of 3.5 million tests and demanded payment. Its requests were routed through various divisions within Health and Human Services, whose lawyers sought in vain for a bona fide contracting officer," Vanity Fair reports.

After the United Arab Emirates secretly purchased millions of coronavirus tests from China for the White House in March -- Trump cut a deal to sell armored tanks to the UAE in May.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix mayor begged for coronavirus tests in the spring, and was told the virus numbers were too low. The numbers were low because of the lack of testing. Then the crisis hit Phoenix in June. Read the article at Vanity Fair. 

The coronavirus death rate in Arizona reached an all-time high on Thursday, while Arizona Governor Doug Ducey attempted to convey a different message in a push to keep businesses open and send children back to school in a death march.

The Arizona Department of Health Services added 172 deaths to their count Thursday, a jump from its previous high of 147 single-day deaths announced July 18, the Hill reports.

Vanity Fair's article exposing the role of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner comes at the same time that Native women are protesting his wife, Trump's daughter Ivanka.

Protestors wait for Ivanka Trump to leave the Bloomington building she visited for the opening of the first cold case office for missing and murdered Native Americans. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Native women protested Ivanka Trump in Minnesota and said she is attempting to co-opt the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement, MMIW, in a political ploy.

Ivanka Trump, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney, Lower Sioux Indian Community Vice President Grace Goldtooth, and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, marked the opening of an office in Bloomington, Minnesota, dedicated to cold cases of murdered and missing in Indian Country.

The New Republic reports, "But in typical Trump style, it was little more than a P.R. stunt, just another branding exercise for Ivanka and a weak attempt by the administration to gin up some short-lived goodwill in Indian Country. In response to the empty spectacle, people had gathered in front of the office in protest."

"Addressing that crowd, Mary Kunesh-Podein, a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party state representative and Standing Rock Sioux descendant whose mother and maternal grandmother were citizens, described the evening’s event as a 'political ploy.'”

At the protest outside, Native women spoke out against Trump's man camps.

"Mysti Babineau, a climate organizer with MN350 and member of the Red Lake Nation, pointed to President Trump’s support for pipelines and copper-nickel mining as a sign that he is being disingenuous in his Indigenous outreach, Minnesota Reformer reports.

Pipeline projects can fuel violence against Native women when transient workers move near rural reservations and set up “man camps.”

“One of the things they do with that money is they like to buy women that they can use and dispose of. That’s what these man camps bring to our communities. They bring degradation, rape and murder,” Babineau said."

“Our women are not photo opportunities,” Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein told protesters outside, Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports.

“Our women are not for show.”

Dozens of protesters gathered outside of the new office, waving an American Indian Movement flag and carrying signs that read “Trusting Trump = Death” and “No More Stolen Sisters.”

State Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, who is of Standing Rock Lakota descent, joined protesters outside the new office.

White House Advisor Ivanka Trump visited Bloomington, Minn. for the opening of the first Missing and Murdered Native American Cold Case Office. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Meanwhile, in New Mexico, the health order was extended.

New Mexico has extended its stay-at-home health order with minor revisions through the end of August.

This comes as new cases reach crisis level in neighboring Texas, and hospitals filled to capacity in neighboring Arizona.

In New Mexico, face masks will remain required in all public places and law enforcement may issue citations.

The governor previously delayed re-entry to school classrooms until at least Sept. 7 and rolled back plans to reopen the economy by restoring a ban on indoor restaurant service and requiring a 14-day self-quarantine as travelers enter or return to New Mexico, KVIA News reports.

Indian Health Service wants to return defective masks

After it was exposed that Indian Health Service sent defective surgical masks to Navajo hospitals, a Congressional probe followed.

ProPublica reports, The Indian Health Service, which purchased Chinese-made KN95 masks from a former Trump White House official through a $3 million contract, is now trying to return the masks but facing resistance, the agency told ProPublica.

"The contractor, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Zach Fuentes, 'refused this request and submitted a certified claim for payment” instead, the agency said.'"
 Read more at ProPublica.


Summary of contaminated and defective tests and masks in Indian country

So far, there have been three different exposures regarding the contaminated test kits, defective rapid Abbott tests, and the defective masks from China purchased by IHS and given to Navajo hospitals.

The Vanity Fair article is the first to expose the contaminated coronavirus test kits. These were sent to many states. They were from China but secretly purchased through the United Arab Emirates.

(2) The rapid Abbott test kits showed a high rate of fail, showing people were negative when they were actually positive and had the virus. Both Navajo facilities and Oyate Health Center in Rapid City used these, as well as others.

The Abbott test kits were the test kits that Trump gave the Navajo Vice President in Phoenix in May.

Since people were positive and may have falsely believed they were negative due to the test failures, this would have led to spred of the virus.

(3) The defective masks, known as surgical masks, were purchased by IHS from a former Trump adviser who bought them from China. They were defective because they were unsafe, and could let the virus through.

These were distributed by IHS to Navajo hospitals. This is the subject of a Congressional probe.

About the author

Brenda Norrell is publisher of Censored News, now in its 14th year with 20 million pageviews. It is a service to Indigenous Peoples and human rights, without ads or grants.
Norrell began as a news reporter at Navajo Times in 1982, during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. She was a stringer for AP and USA Today covering the Navajo Nation and federal courts.
After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and terminated in 2006.
As a result, she created Censored News. The coverage has ranged from the Mother Earth Conference in Bolivia, to traveling through Mexico with the Zapatistas, and broadcasting live the five-month Longest Walk Talk Radio from coast to coast with Earthcycles.
She has a master's degree in international health, focused on water, nutrition and infectious diseases, which she earned after  spending one year in rural Colombia, South America.
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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Has this had National coverage outside of Vanity Fair? I assume you've tried for that exposure. The world must, needs to know about this great injustice. As well as constant reminders of missing indigenous people.