Three more incoming travelers were confirmed positive for COVID-19. The three were identified by travel screening and confirmed through fifth-day testing on Aug. 19. The cases bring the CNMI’s total to 224 cases.
According to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., the individuals have since then been quarantined and monitored, and CHCC’s Communicable Disease Investigation/ Inspection team has already initiated contract tracing for those who were in most immediate contact with the individuals.
In related news, the CNMI is steadily making progress toward 80% of its eligible population being fully-vaccinated against COVID-19, with 32,312 people, or 76.2% of the eligible population, being fully-vaccinated as of yesterday.
Reaching 80%—a point where the CNMI can claim herd immunity against COVID-19—has been a priority of the CNMI leadership, the COVID-19 Task Force, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., and vaccination campaign Road to 80, but CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña said Friday that the work should not stop there, as the focus now turns to protecting those ineligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
Muña Friday said that “herd immunity must take into account the children,” and cited the recent openings of schools and the highly transmissible delta variant as more reasons to continue increasing vaccination numbers in the CNMI. “The delta variant changed the game, because now that schools have opened and [students under the age of 12] are ineligible to get vaccinated, we have to consider their protection and the protection of our CNMI bubble,” said Muña.
“Herd immunity” refers to a form of indirect disease/infection protection that is achieved when a certain percentage of a population has become immune to an infection either through vaccination or past exposure to an infection/disease, reducing the chances of community spread and allowing those with no immunity to remain healthy without receiving a vaccine shot or being exposed to disease.
Muña also addressed the community’s frustration with how the CNMI’s COVID-19 policies have been frequently changing of late, and explains that the changes come in preparation of and in response to the delta variant and how it is currently affecting the United States.
“I want to express that we understand the frustration about how the pandemic keeps changing our situation, but the delta variant is spreading to the point where hospital rooms [in the U.S.] are unavailable and treatments are being delayed. In a single hospital system [here in the CNMI] and a high number of residents with underlying conditions, the CNMI cannot take chances and put the large number of unvaccinated at risk, which is still over 20,000,” said Muña.