Cherokee Nation has begun distributing direct-assistance payments to Cherokee elders, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said Friday.
"I'm proud to announce that our Respond, Recover and Rebuild Elder Assistance Initiative has been a tremendous success," Hoskin said in a video announcement.
Hoskin said the program had received more than 31,000 applications for the $400 stipend checks, which can be used to assist in covering the cost of food, cleaning supplies, or other expenses associated with the pandemic. He said about 4,000 were scheduled to have been released by the end of last week.
Hoskin also said Cherokee elders who live on the reservation are eligible for $1,200 utility assistance payments, to be paid by Cherokee Nation directly to utility companies on their behalf.
"We're not out of the woods yet," Hoskin said. "We are still a community and a state with rapid spread of COVID-19. So please social distance, wear a masks, and make sure to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer to stay safe. Together we will get through this. Wado."
The Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill announced last week that they would be postponing their reopening, planned for last week, due to a confirmed COVID-19 infection among the staff.