August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Unauthorized coronavirus test used on Navajo Nation, info used in marketing campaign





Unauthorized COVID-19 tests were administered to Navajos and the  information was used in an online marketing campaign. The Navajo Nation Council says the contract was not authorized. Unapproved types of antigen and antibody rapid virus tests were administered to Navajos. The company's services were used during First Lady Biden's recent visit. The services included disinfecting 10 tribal buildings, and distributing "bipolar ionization necklaces," and bracelets to monitor body functions.

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Updated May 21, 2021

Unauthorized rapid coronavirus tests were  administered to Navajos. The information,  which includes COVID-19
 services during First Lady Jill Biden's visit, was used in an online marketing campaign.

Meanwhile, the Navajo Nation Council said the $3 million contract was not authorized to 
Agile Technologies, a software technology company. The Navajo Nation issued a cease and desist order to the company on May 7.



As a result, the Navajo Nation Council removed the tribe's controller -- by a vote of 13 to 10 -- on May 19. The controller's annual salary is $225,000.

However, Navajos are now calling for an in-depth probe of the removal action, and the contract.

Federal relief: Where did it go?

The Navajo Nation government received $714 million in federal virus relief aid under the CARES Act in two deposits, in May and  June, of 2020.

However, the Navajo government delayed distribution of the virus aid. In August, when Dine' were in desperate need, the Navajo government gave $24 million of the federal virus relief funds to its casinos.

It was not until eight months after receiving the federal virus relief -- and more than 1,000 Navajos had died from the virus -- that the Navajo government began distributing the remaining portion -- more than $300 million -- in direct relief checks to Dine', in January of 2021.

As of today, 1,297 Dine' have died from the coronavirus. More than 1,400 Navajos currently test positive, according to the Navajo Nation.

The Contract

The contract to Agile Technologies with federal CARES Act relief aid is among the first to be questioned by Navajos.

Dine' question who negotiated the initial contract to Agile Technologies, and who signed off on the contract.

Agile Technologies used coronavirus testing methods that are not approved for use on the Navajo Nation, the Navajo Council said. (See full statement below.)

Censored News discovered that the Navajo virus information was used in an online  marketing campaign by Agile's parent company, FOMO Corp., in both January and April of 2021.

FOMO is not a health care provider. FOMO, Agile's parent company, changed its name in May.

It was previously named "2050 Motors, Inc," and marketed carbon-built vehicles in Las Vegas. It now uses the name "FOMO."


FOMO made public the Navajo virus information when it announced that its subsidiary, Purge Virus, entered into a joint venture with Agile Technologies, a software technology company, in January.

FOMO said in the marketing campaign:





In the marketing campaign shown above, Agile Technologies made public that it used a double rapid virus test on Navajos on the Navajo Nation, and describes the process it used disinfecting tribal offices.

The marketing campaign exposed the facts of Agile's role, as it prepared for the visit of First Lady Biden to the Navajo Nation in April.

The marketing statement follows in full, which was widely distributed on Yahoo News. It describes how 
FOMO Corp. and Agile Technologies provided COVID-19 safety services during First Lady Biden's visit:

April 22, 2021
Chicago IL(GLOBE NEWSWIRE)

 -- FOMO CORP (https://www.fomoworldwide.com/ is pleased to announce that its wholly owned subsidiary Purge Virus LLC (https://purgevirus.com/) and its strategic partner AGILE Technologies Group, LLC (https://www.4AGILEtech.com/) are collaborating to provide COVID-19 safety services for First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s scheduled visit to the Navajo Tribal Park and Veterans Memorial in Window Rock, Arizona April 22-23, 2021 (“FLOTUS”).

The Navajo Nation Council Spring Session is a weeklong legislative session that coincides with the First Lady’s visit.

AGILE’s Managing Partner, Rod Martin, led AGILE in providing rapid Antigen and Antibody COVID-19 testing with results in just 10 minutes for the Navajo Nation in 2020.

AGILE brought in Purge Virus to initially provide portable air disinfection devices, and the scope of the services expanded dramatically to include added services by AGILE as well as comprehensive disinfection by Purge Virus in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems across ten buildings at Window Rock.

At the upcoming event, AGILE was also selected to provide COVID-19 safety services for the First Lady and her staff for their visit to Navajo Nation.

The combined services to date have included COVID-19 detection, protection, prevention, and indoor air quality (“IAQ”) improvement through ultraviolet and bipolar ionization.

To date the COVID-19 complete safety solution for Navajo Nation has included:

1. Rapid antigen and antibody testing,
2. Air purification through portable and in-duct disinfection,

3. Highest protective quality N95 masks,
4. Bipolar ionization necklaces for personal protection,

5. Wrist-worn devices for screening blood oxygen level, body temperature and heart rate that give an alert with any downturn in these health indicators.

Rod Martin, Managing Partner of AGILE, said, “Our ongoing work with Navajo Nation has set new standards for life safety. Pearline Kirk, Controller for the Navajo Nation has stated that employees reported feeling safer at work than at home.

Additionally, the Office of Controller building had been a source of undetermined complaints of sickness that were no longer reported after the installation of the HVAC-based air purification systems.

We have worked hard to earn the confidence of the Navajo Nation and have been asked to provide a COVID-19 safety plan for the legislative session where AGILE’s medical team administered Rapid COVID-19 tests, set up air purification devices throughout the Council Building, provided N95 masks and distributed individually worn protective devices.

We were not initially aware of the visit by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and it is an honor to know that the team adds to the overall safety plan for her visit. This is an example of the effectiveness of the advanced protocols available today to detect and reduce the threat of COVID-19, variants, and related impacts.”

Charlie Szoradi, CEO of Purge Virus said, “We are honored that First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is visiting Window Rock. The visit just happens to coincide with Earth Day, which is April 22 every year, which is symbolic.

"We see that the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for overall sustainability, with a new focus on safe and also energy efficient buildings through our FOMO ecosystem of clean building solutions.”

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez tweeted: "The Biden-Harris Administration has been a key partner in our response to COVID-19 which includes the #AmericanRescuePlan.

We are looking forward to hosting the First Lady and her team. For most of the pandemic, the Navajo Nation has been the hardest hit per capita place in America.”

Nez says they plan to take her to a vaccination clinic on April 23 and stress that they have now gone seven straight days without a COVID-19 death.
Source: https://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/first-lady-jill-biden-to-visit-albuquerque-navajo-nation-capitol

Highlights on the indoor air quality for Navajo Nation:

Portable Disinfection Cylinders: The devices have a 12-inch diameter, and they are 33.5 inches tall. They include four speeds with variable cubic feet per minute (CFM) and cover up to 1,600 ft². The advanced disinfection includes: Ultrafine Particulate HEPA-Rx Filter, Activated Carbon Filter, Germicidal Ultraviolet (UV-C) Bulbs, Hydroxyl Radical Reactivity Chamber, and Revitalizing Negative Ion Chamber. Each device also includes auto functionality as well as air quality sensors. For more details see the cylinder device toward the bottom of this page: www.purgevirus.com/portable-devices

HVAC Bipolar Ionization Disinfection: Prior to the technology production and on-site installation, Purge Virus conducted a comprehensive site visit to review the existingn HVAC equipment. The key for successful disinfection is to align the right technology to each facility. Per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines, Purge Virus used multiple bipolar ionization devices in the air handling units (AHUs) that meet the Underwriter Laboratories (UL 867 and UL 2998) with zero ozone production. This advanced system is some of the only technology in the world that meets the dual criteria. Ionization inactivates the proteins that form the “spikes” on the COVID-19 acellular microorganisms. The result is indoor air quality (“IAQ”) that is cleaner than outdoor air and protects humans from infection by COVID-19.

Bipolar Ionization Necklaces: Bipolar ionization damages the surface structure of the coronavirus at the molecular level and results in an inability of the virus to cause infection. The devices are worn around the neck and attach to expelled breath droplets and dust particles that can transport viruses, enlarging them so they are more easily caught in filters. It is an active process that provides continuous disinfection.

Watch-Like Wearables: This wrist worn device monitors temperature, heart rate and blood oxygen level and provides the data to a secure, smartphone app that provides an alert if the individual has abnormal deviations with these health indicators and signs of COVID-19 infection. It is part of a daily screening process that is part of the overall safety plan.
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Navajo Nation Council statement May 18, 2021:

Council hears report on irregularities with COVID-19 testing contract and deliberates emergency removal of Navajo Nation
Controller Pearline Kirk during Special Session

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — On Friday, the 24th Navajo Nation Council held a Special Session where a report was presented by Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen McPaul and Chief Legislative Counsel Dana Bobroff discussing concerns and irregularities with a COVID-19 testing contract between the Navajo Nation Office of the Controller (OOC) and Agile Technologies resulting in a Cease-and-Desist Notice issued by the Navajo Nation Department of Justice (NNDOJ). Ms. McPaul also discussed a Legal Preservation Notice issued to OOC employees and other tribal programs.

After the report by Ms. McPaul and Ms. Bobroff, the Council deliberated emergency Legislation No. 0083-21 to remove Navajo Nation Controller Pearline Kirk as the Controller of the Navajo Nation and to request the Navajo Nation President to immediately appoint an acting Controller.

“We take notice anytime it is brought to our attention that our people’s safety and information has been compromised by anyone,” said Speaker Seth Damon (Bááhaalí, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Red Rock, Rock Springs, Tséyatoh). “We are grateful for the Department of Justice and our Legislative Attorneys for their work to ensure these issues are handled fairly with a holistic understanding.”

Although the Council deliberated until midnight on 0083-21, they did not take final action before the time scheduled for the Special Session expired. Deliberations on 0083-21 as well as further reports will resume during the next Council Session May 19-20.

McPaul reported that a NNDOJ investigation into a Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) Funds contract between OOC and Agile Technologies revealed Agile was paid over $3 million in advance to provide COVID-19 testing using methods not approved for use on the Navajo Nation.

Additionally, Agile did not report their test results to tribal health authorities, did not providing contact tracing, and failed to protect personal health information with their test samples.

McPaul indicated that when she was informed of the results of the investigation, she immediately issued a Cease-and-Desist Notice to Agile Technologies on May 7, 2021.

McPaul also revealed that the results of NNDOJ’s investigation were shared with federal attorneys stating, “In looking out for the health, safety and welfare of the Nation we issued this notice to immediately stop the testing that was occurring to Navajo Nation employees and the public despite express disapproval from our Health Command Center in December of 2020.”

According to Bobroff, after the Notice to Cease-and-Desist was issued to Agile on on May 7th and information came to light that documents were being removed from the OOC, NNDOJ issued a Legal Preservation Notice on May 12th to the OOC employees and contractors, as well as other tribal programs to ensure that CARES Funds related documents were not lost or destroyed.

During the report, the Council entered executive session to receive more information on the investigation, as well as the Cease-and-Desist Notice and Legal Preservation Notice.

Thereafter, Council Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton (Shiprock) motioned to hear a report from Kirk before discussion began on 0083-21. However, the Controller was not called to report after other delegates cautioned against hearing a report due to the ongoing investigation.

“Anything said in a public report can be used in the investigation, as well as in judicial proceedings,” added Bobroff before the report was accepted with a vote of 19 in favor and three opposed.

Following the report, 0083-21 was presented to the Council by sponsor Council Delegate Pernell Halona (Coyote Canyon, Mexican Springs, Naschitti, Tohatchi, Bahastl’a’a’) and co-sponsor Edison J. Wauneka (Oaksprings, St. Michaels).

The responsibility of the Navajo Nation Controller is to control and account for all financial activities for the Navajo Nation. The new controller would be appointed by the Navajo Nation President and later confirmed by the Navajo Nation Council.

“Madam Controller serves at the discretion of Council and can be removed without any reason, but it is my belief that the Navajo Nation would be better served if a different person would be appointed as Controller of the Navajo Nation’s matters in light of the recent events,” said Delegate Halona.

Concerns were shared by Council Delegate Carl Slater (Round Rock, Rock Point, Tséch’izí, Lukachugai, Tsaile-Wheatfields) over the sensitive personal health information that has since gone unaccounted for at the hands of Agile Technologies and the Controller. “We have Navajo citizens out there who have lost their information at the hands of the Controller and I feel incredibly let down.”

Other delegates asked for more information regarding communication from the Navajo Nation President, as well as how the removal resolution could affect the current CARES expenditures and future ARPA allocations and expenditures.

Delegate Halona indicated that while he did not know the President’s plans if Kirk was removed, there are people within OOC that could readily take over the Controller position. Halona noted that the focus remained on the investigation and the location and protection of employee’s personal health information and test samples. Halona also noted that the CARES Funds appropriations would not change but investigations would continue on all of OOC’s contracts and sub-contracts.

In response to an inquiry by Council Delegate Vince James (Jeddito, Cornfields, Ganado, Kinłichii’, Steamboat), Bobroff explained that the Navajo Nation’s Personnel Policies do not apply to Kirk as she holds a politically appointed at-will position.

Following further discussion on the Navajo Nation’s contracting process, Council Delegate Herman Daniels, Jr., (Ts’ah Bii’ Kin, Navajo Mountain, Shonto, Oljato) motioned to amend 0083-21 to place Kirk on paid administrative leave for 180 days or until the conclusion of the investigation.

Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay, Jr. (Tachee/Blue Gap, Many Farms, Nazlini, Tselani/Cottonwood, Low Mountain) wanted to know how much Kirk would be paid during her proposed 180 day administrative leave. Attorney General McPaul informed the Council that Kirk would continue to receive her annual salary of $225,014.

Language in the proposed amendment was changed from administrative leave to investigatory leave after Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty (Cove, Toadlena/Two Grey Hills, Red Valley, Tsé’ałnáoozt’i’í, Sheepsprings, Beclabito, Gad’ii’áhí/Tó Ko’í) said there was no language to indicate why the amendment includes administrative leave.

Council Delegate Charlaine Tso (Mexican Water, Tółikan, Teec Nos Pos, Aneth, Red Mesa) motioned to table the legislation for 14 days over concerns about a lack of consultation with relevant parties and to further review the documentation. However, Delegate Tso’s motion’s failed and discussion on the legislation continued until time expired at midnight.

“We do need to have a full understanding of what is happening with this legislation considering what this will mean for the Navajo People and a person’s career,” added Council Delegate Eugenia Charles-Newton (Shiprock).

Delegate Halona stated his opposition to prolonging removal of Kirk saying the federal government is watching the Navajo Nation and the current lack of task delegation within OOC, “I think removing Ms. Kirk is the right decision at this time, the President needs to be able to delegate her authority to continue completing projects and that is not happening right now.”

CONTACTS
Timothy E. Benally, Public Information Officer
timothybenally@navajo-nsn.gov
(928) 380-6121 (c)
Email 1: communications@navajo-nsn.gov
Email 2: nnlb.communications@gmail.com
Download (PDF)
Navajo Nation Legislative Branch | www.navajonationcouncil.org | (928) 871-7160
Navajo Nation Office of the Speaker PO Box 3390 Window Rock, AZ 86515

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Coronavirus Update, May 19, 2021: Source Navajo Nation





Article copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News


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