Alternative Care Site ready for anticipated COVID surge


The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is positive that the CNMI’s Alternative Care Site, or ACS, is ready for the anticipated local surge of COVID-19, now that the highly transmissible omicron variant has been positively identified to be present in the CNMI.

CHCC’s chief medical officer Dr. John Tudela said yesterday that, although there is an anticipated rise in COVID-19 cases, the CNMI is ready for it thanks to the Alternative Care Site located within Kanoa Resort.

“The CHCC is anticipating a rise in infected individuals and the Alternative Care Site remains ready to take care of COVID-19 patients as an extension of the acute care provided at the hospital during a surge,” he said in a text message to Saipan Tribune.


The ACS was built in April 2020 to separate COVID-19 patients from CHCC’s main hospital in an effort to protect the CNMI community from a spread.

It was created after the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projected a surge in the CNMI cases by June 2020.

Tudela said data suggests that the omicron variant spreads more easily, which is why the CNMI community should not let its guard down.

“Emerging data suggests that the omicron variant spreads more easily than other variants and generally causes less severe disease than infection from other variants. This does not mean we should let our guard down. Our vulnerable population may still get a severe disease due to underlying chronic medical conditions and could die from co-infection with other microorganisms, as well as from complications related to organ failure,” he stated.

He urges everyone to get their complete set of vaccinations as it is the No. 1 defense against this new variant that has already started a new wave of COVID-19 positive cases in the CNMI.

“While we do have treatment for COVID-19, vaccination remains our best defense against overwhelming hospitalizations and the collapse of our fragile health care system. In addition, all residents of the CNMI should continue to live COVID-19-safe: wear a well-fitted mask, wash/sanitize your hands frequently, and limit contact with individuals outside of your household,” Tudela said.

According to a previous statement from CHCC spokesperson Guillermo Lifoifoi, over 40 COVID-19 positive samples that were collected between Dec. 20, 2021, and Jan. 10, 2022, were identified as the omicron variant.

“Of the 64 samples sequenced in the batch sent Jan. 12, 2022, 43 were identified as the omicron variant and 21 as the delta variant. The samples in this batch were collected between Dec. 20, 2021 and Jan. 10, 2022. The first sample that was identified as omicron was collected on Dec. 20, 2021,” he had said.

The samples were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for sequencing and identification.

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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