ACS on standby


As the CNMI continues to see its daily COVID-19 cases and number of hospitalizations decline, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. officially placed the Alternative Care Site at Kanoa Resort in a “warm” state, essentially closing the ACS facility and leaving the site on standby in case of another COVID-19 surge.

According to CHCC CEO Esther Muña, because there have been no patients at the COVID-19 site in Kanoa for the past few weeks, CHCC decided to transition the facility into a “warm” state starting last week before officially closing the site last Friday.

Muña explained that a “warm” state means the facility will be closed, but it will not be completely shut down so if there is a need for it in the near future, it can be easily reopened.

“For the last couple of weeks, we have not had any patients at the Alternative Care Site. So, as we’re seeing zero hospitalizations over at the Alternate Care Site, we’ve put it into a ‘warm’ state. ‘Warm’ state means that all the equipment will be there and we will ensure that preventive maintenance is done, so when there’s a need for it, or if there is a surge again, or for any reason whatsoever, we will be able to utilize it and return it to what we call hot state,” she said.

Muña explained that after monitoring the COVID-19 trend in the United States and Guam, CHCC feels it is safe to close the ACS for now.

“Right now, we’re seeing what’s happening in the U.S. and also what’s happening in Guam, and we’re seeing cases decline and a decline in hospitalizations too. We feel that it is safe to close the ACS site. But, again, by putting it in a warm state, we remain prepared because we just don’t know exactly what’s coming up next,” she said.

The CHCC CEO said putting the ACS in a warm state was the best decision, as opposed to the alternative, which is completely shutting it down, because it keeps the CNMI prepared for whatever COVID-19 variant may pop up next.

“There’s a lot of information coming in. We just want to make sure that we do this right. So putting the ACS in a warm state is the best decision for us, rather than completely shutting it down,” she said.

CHCC announced the temporary closure of the ACS following news that the CNMI is slowly progressing toward community level medium.

As of March 14, 2022, a total of 10,535 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the CNMI, with 1 in 5 CNMI citizens estimated to have contracted the disease. Due to the high vaccination rate against COVID-19 in the CNMI and availability of treatments such as monoclonal antibodies, rates of severe COVID-19 have been low.

A total of 213 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 (2.1% of cases) in the CNMI and 31 people have died due to COVID-19 for an overall case fatality rate of 0.3%, lower than almost every other U.S. jurisdiction and most countries.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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