That is the question that is frequently being asked by many in the community and, although there is no direct “yes” or “no” answer, Warren Villagomez, who heads the COVID-19 Task Force, says that the different color levels basically refer to business hour limits, building occupancy limits, and other safety protocols.
With the low incidence of community spread in the CNMI, Villagomez said the color levels give the task force, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., and the administration a better gauge in making decisions on a daily basis.
The community vulnerability level is a five-color scale that signifies the level of COVID-19 risk in the community, with Level Red as the least safe and Level Green as the safest.
Villagomez said that they have yet to see risk at this time and, with the precautionary measures that are put in place, the different color levels set standard for businesses, schools, establishments, etc. to follow.
“I also feel that we’re not restricting anyone based on what we have out there in regards to precautionary measures,” said Villagomez, adding that they have yet to deny anyone from opening a business establishment and that the task force just wants to ensure that the COVID-19 directives, and the three W’s (wash your hands, wait at a 6-foot distance, and wear a mask), are in place.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said that, at this point, with every business opening up or has had the opportunity to open up, it feels as if the island is already on Level Green. However, Torres stated that “we all have to understand that we may not be able to go back to 100% normalcy, unless there’s a vaccine.”
“Our system is working, and I know that we want to open everything, but at the same time, we’re basically almost there. We have a curfew at 2 o’clock in the morning, and then it opens up again at four o’clock. But other than that, all businesses are able to open,” said Torres.
And even if it feels as if the CNMI is already on Level Green, there is still a curfew, Villagomez said.
Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther Muña said that there’s no getting rid of the 3 W’s even if the island is on Level Green and that “we need to continue doing it,” and that travelers coming in can still bring in the risk.
With the businesses opening up with restrictions, Muña stressed that they want to be careful because, even if there is just one case of COVID-19 community spread, it can be “detrimental for the CNMI.” Muña stated that the CNMI has been fortunate enough that the individuals who have tested positive did not require hospitalization.