COVID-19 tests draw few takers

Posted on May 05 2020

As of yesterday, May 4, and based on the assumption that the CNMI population stands at 50,000, only 2.7% of Saipan’s population has taken advantage of the free mass testing for COVID-19 at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

This means that, out of 50,000 individuals on Saipan, only 1,335 individuals have gotten tested and, with the resumption of flights from Guam over the weekend, this begs the question: “Should the governor make it mandatory for every passenger that comes into Saipan take the test?”

“I think that it should be mandatory since there are a lot of reports that people who have recovered from the virus have ended up testing positive again,” said Jon Borja, a Kagman resident. He also stated that if Saipan opens up in the next couple of months, tourist and/or returning residents should get tested and wait for their results while in quarantine.

“Even if they appear to be okay, we’ll never know so it’s best if the governor makes it mandatory for everyone coming to the island,” he added.

The drive-thru tests are administered by a team from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.

Dr. Beth Kohnen, CHCC’s deputy chief medical officer, stated that if an individual has a certificate from the Guam health department that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the last 72 hours of their arrival, they are released early.

Additionally, Esther Muña, chief executive officer of CHCC, assured that the thrice-a-week United Airlines flights from Guam to Saipan, will not disrupt the mass testing at the airport. She said the testing will be held from 1pm to 4pm on the days of the flights.

Jane (not her real name) speaks for the many people who is intimidated by the idea of getting tested for COVID-19. “I’ve seen clips on the internet of people getting tested for the virus and it just makes me uneasy,” said. That’s one of the reasons why she doesn’t want to get tested.

Another resident stated that even if it’s free, he’s been staying home and has been more than careful when he goes out shopping. He said he doesn’t feel the need to get tested that because of his social distancing, good hygiene, and always staying home.

To date, the CNMI has 14 confirmed cases, with 12 recoveries and two deaths.

COVID-19 in Guam

The Department of Public Health and Social Services tested 81 individuals for COVID-19 on May 3. One tested positive through DPHSS and 79 tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. The results include samples from clinics, hospitals, the quarantine facility, and samples from the COVID-19 expanded testing at the Hemlani Apartments in Harmon.

Six people previously released from isolation have returned to active isolation status.
To date, 149 cases have been confirmed through COVID-19 testing, with five deaths and 126 released from isolation.

MD: 2.7% of Saipan’s population takes COVID-19 testing.

KW: COVID-19, Saipan, Guam.

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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