CNMI maps out vaccine plan

Posted on Oct 26 2020


The CNMI has submitted its interim vaccination plan for Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Warren Villagomez, chairman of the COVID-19 Task Force, feels confident that the plan is thorough and ready to be carried out.

According to Villagomez, the plan was put together by the task force, Office of Homeland Security, and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. He said the CDC is now reviewing the plan.

CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña and CHCC chief operation officer Subroto Banerji said in a previous interview that any COVID-19 vaccine that will be made available to the CNMI will be distributed in three phases: first will be health care workers and other front-liners; the second will be for people who are most vulnerable and children; and then lastly, for everyone else. Banerji had said the overall goal is to push out the vaccine into the community.

In order to do that, informing the community will be key, Villagomez had said, because they want to make people be aware, and they want to do plenty of promotions and marketing to be ready when the COVID-19 vaccine is already available.

As for regular flights coming into the CNMI, Villagomez stated that he doesn’t recommend having more flights coming to the CNMI right now and he doesn’t even recommend United Airlines resuming its regular daily flights at this time, since the CNMI’s COVID-19 situation is currently “under control” right now. He said that the entry point protocol testing will not change until there’s a vaccine.

“In order for us to stay at this number, to stay at this level of safety, I don’t foresee promoting additional flights. This three-times-a-week flight is already taxing to our resources, the laboratory at CHCC, as well as in making sure that you have good quality assurance, quality control on your test results that are coming out, as well as our quarantine sites,” said Villagomez.
ACS turnover to CHCC

According to the governor’s authorized representative, Patrick Guerrero, the Alternative Care Site at Kanoa Resort will be turned over to CHCC this Wednesday.

With the CNMI’s continued low number of COVID-19 cases, this made building up the care site to its full potential easier on the administration’s side.

“In the very earliest stages, we were rushing to get something up in within 60 to 90 days, and we did put up the basic structure,” said Guerrero.

At the start, they planned to use oxygen cylinder tanks, which is the quickest way to bring in oxygen into that building if they were to have people in patients on ventilators. Today, they have had more time and are now looking at supplying an oxygen machine at the ACS to then provide oxygen through a plumbing system.

Guerrero echoed Villagomez that, while they’re preparing to open the ACS, they’re also making sure that they “don’t let their guard down.”

Guerrero acknowledged that the ACS would’ve not been possible if not for CHCC, Muña, CHCC director of Medical Affairs Dr. John Tudela, Office of Homeland Security, front-liners, and Kanoa Resort, TanHoldings president Jerry Tan, and TanHoldings vice president for Corporate Business Development Alex Sablan.

Justine Nauta | Correspondent
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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