The CNMI is on top of its COVID-19 response, according to a U.S. Department of Defense official who is on island to help beef up the Commonwealth’s efforts in fighting the pandemic.
Coordinating officer Harry Elliott, who is leading a U.S. Department of Defense team in strengthening the capability of Kanoa Resort as an alternate care site, stressed the “absolutely outstanding” partnership between the DoD and the Commonwealth in this effort.
“In peacetime, we work together to make sure that our forces are trained to protect all Americans, including the folks here in the CNMI, and it’s really important that we’re able to do that. But, we’re also here, the military is also here, in times of crisis, to be able to help our fellow Americans,” he added.
DoD flown in nine medical professionals to the CNMI—five nurses, one biochemist, one microbiologist, and three lab technicians—all providing support to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. DoD is also working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“In addition to myself, I have an Army lieutenant colonel, and an Army major to support the planning efforts. We work for United States Indo-Pacific Command and support of Adm. [John] Menoni, back in Guam, at the Task Force West, and we are all committed to bringing forces here in the event they’re needed,” said Elliott.
According to Elliott, the DoD has forces on the ground, integrated with CHCC, making plans that “they hope to never have to execute,” and they are ready should additional medical providers be required.
“We will be ready to bring those forces here, and watching how strong the team here in the CNMI, how well the response has gone, how serious the public is taking this. It’s really impressive,” he said.
“I can tell you that, from my observation, there’s not a jurisdiction in the United States that is doing it as good or better than the CNMI. The CNMI is really at the top. You can see that in how few cases there are, you can see that in how few fatalities have been, so it’s important that we continue to take this seriously,” he added.
Elliott, a proud resident of the Marianas himself, lauded the partnerships formed in the CNMI.
“We, in the military, are so grateful for how welcoming, and how cooperative, the people of the CNMI are, and when the crisis has come, we are proud and glad to be able to come and support,” he said.