A cease and desist order was given last Friday to Agile Technologies Group, a company that has been hired by the Office of the Controller to administer COVID-19 testing in Window Rock.
The order came from the Office of the Attorney General of the Navajo Nation and it stated that a sole-source emergency contract between the Navajo Nation and Agile had been executed on November 20, 2020 with an expiration date of December 30. 2020, but the company continued to give COVID-19 tests until it was brought to the attention of the GA’s office nearly five months after the expiration date.
“Agile has designed a COVID-19 test and mitigation plan for the Office of the Controller and its employees, including rapid testing, antibody testing, PPE, installation of a filtration system. air and other mitigation technologies, ”the command said. The Navajo Nation Health Command Operations Center and the Navajo Department of Health were not consulted regarding this COVID-19 testing contract and there was no coordination of activity. test with the HCOC before testing begins.
Agile at one point was administering COVID-19 tests to Navajo Nation employees outside Administrative Building 1, where the controller’s office is located.
For the entire pandemic, the HCOC was the entity that only handled the logistics of COVID-19, and for this reason, all tests for COVID-19 had to be approved by the HCOC. On December 11, Agile was made aware of this and informed that Navajo Nation has established guidelines for contractors and third parties testing on the Navajo Nation. Agile has never received approval from the HCOC for COVID-19 testing to be performed on the Navajo Nation.
On the Agile website, Managing Director Roderick Martin says: “What sets our solution apart is that we offer all three types of tests with a specialty in the highly accurate, rapid and 10 minute tests authorized by the FDA and combine them with HVAC building safety, portable devices, advanced screening technologies and data reporting. We combine all of these separate components to create the most effective method of slowing the spread of the novel Sars-Cov2 coronavirus. We actively recruit from communities where we provide services and solutions to create jobs and contribute to the economic health of communities.
On December 12, the HCOC met with Agile and the Office of the Controller and informed them that the HCOC does not approve any antigen or antibody testing by companies or non-medical facilities, and that these tests should be discontinued.
“Dr. Laura Hammitt, a member of Navajo Nation’s COVID-19 testing coordination team, informed Agile and OOC that no further testing should take place until Agile has established a clear plan for case management and contact tracing through the public health system, ”the order said. “We have learned that Agile failed to stop testing as directed.”
The expired contract limited Agile testing to employees in the controller’s office and their immediate family members. But according to the order, Agile has extended its testing beyond that scope, to include other Navajo Nation employees, delegates from the Navajo Nation Council and the public. Agile had also rented space at the Navajo Nation mall and was providing testing to the general public, the order said.
During the spring session, and when First Lady Jill Biden visited the Navajo Nation, Council delegates used Agile’s unapproved tests, according to an anonymous source.
The order said Agile misled employees and the public into believing that her ongoing tests were affiliated with the Navajo Nation, which she was not. The test was neither legitimate nor authorized.
The concerns lie in what Agile does with the personal health information of test takers and how Agile manages blood and other samples and disposes of medical waste. Agile would not report test results to the HCOC or state health departments in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, and would not have a clear plan for case management and contact tracing through the public health system.
“Agile’s continued disapproved testing activity puts the Navajo at risk and jeopardizes the health, safety and well-being of the Navajo Nation,” the order said.
An email was sent to Martin using the email address provided on the Agile website, but it was returned as undeliverable.
The comptroller’s office did not return a call from the Navajo Times.
President Jonathan Nez and Attorney General Doreen McPaul said they would have a statement by the end of the day, but as of 10 p.m. it had not been sent.
Council delegates said they were not allowed to comment on the situation.
A special session of the Council has been called for tomorrow (Friday), the only item on the agenda being “a special report from the Navajo Nation Department of Justice and Chief Legislative Counsel on Archival Conservation issued by the Attorney General of the Navajo Nation ”.