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CNMI still at ‘Code Yellow’

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Posted on Jun 11 2020

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Despite new COVID-19 cases in the CNMI, the Commonwealth remains at Level Yellow, which is midway between Red, which is the least safe level, and Green, which is the safest.

This is because there is a higher proportion of negative results among an increasing number of people being tested, according to the COVID-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.

Task Force chair Warren Villagomez reiterates that the transition to different levels is like a “water valve,” which means it can go up or down. “We’ll open up if we see that it’s feasible and safe, tightening up if there’s risk,” he added.

There are now a total of 30 COVID-19 cases in the CNMI, with nine active cases and a total of 7,523 specimens collected on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota through the mass testing initiative.

Movements and elevations between levels are being discussed, while being mindful of the number of new positive cases on the islands, according to Villagomez, who said these are evaluated each day.

“Right now, we are discussing all these matters in a group setting. All the different criteria and elements are put on the table and we assess them thoroughly to make sure that the decision that’s made is for public health, safety, and to make sure that our economy is being thought out,” he added.

The task force, with the CHCC contact tracing team, pursue different techniques to spearhead and mitigate risk as they conduct their daily operation, Villagomez said, and that all the elements that are in place are outlined to effectively administer services and care.

“It’s a moving target everyday for us. We are also working along with [health provider] Marianas Health [LLC], all the different health services out there, to get into the vulnerable population, the bed-bound population, the Man’amko Center, to get them tested so we can safeguard our elderly,” he added. “Nothing is stable, nothing is firm in regards to our color coding. …Unless the governor changes that executive order to a different order, those are the directions for us to adhere on.”

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, at his radio news briefing last Monday, explained that the vulnerability color levels are guidelines for the community and businesses, and that the colors can be adjusted if needed. “Would it be possible to go down? Yes. If we have a surge of 1,000, or we’re seeing a number of surge cases coming in. But if we all as a community continue to practice social distancing and continue to see the progress we’ve made, there won’t be any reason. We’re moving in that direction. Unless something drastic happens to our community, we’re going to move forward on changing those colors accordingly,” he said.

Right now, the task force is assuring all in the community that the CNMI has a mechanism in place, with test kits available, to administer the services and minimizing the risk of COVID-19, whether it is for inbound passengers or the community, in general.

Iva Maurin | Author
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com

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