DPW urges community to properly discard used PPEs

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Posted on Jun 12 2020

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The Department of Public Works have been doing their routine maintenance on primary roads since they went back to work and this wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t have to pick up face mask and gloves that have not been discarded properly.

According to Mike Borja, director of the Division of Roads and Grounds under DPW, picking up discarded face masks and gloves are a major health hazard, especially for his work crew who are picking up trash on the road.

“We are very surprised that most of the trash are masks and gloves,” said Borja, adding that, with the COVID-19 pandemic still going on, people should be mindful with how they discard their personal protective equipment.

One of DPW’s workers, who asked that he be identified only as Joe, said, “I think that many people don’t realize that used masks and gloves can be a threat [as] it can lead to further spread of the virus.”

Although many of the CNMI’s recent COVID-19 cases have been from in-bound passengers, Joe cited the COVID-19 case of a 39-year-old woman whose exposure to the virus remains unknown.

“The virus is already here. We need to do our best to take all precautionary measures…in order to help not spread it, and it’s important that everyone get educated about proper and improper use of [face] masks and gloves,” said Joe.

On top of their routine road maintenance work, DPW has also been sanitizing their offices, going so far as buying a gallon of alcohol since it’s getting harder to find bottles of alcohol, and using PPEs.

Additionally, Borja stated that, although it wasn’t mandatory, DPW employees (including the Workforce Investment Agency employees under DPW) have brought it upon themselves to get tested for COVID-19.

When testing capabilities weren’t still available for the CNMI, Borja remembers going sleep at night thinking that there could be a possibility that he could have COVID-19. Once the offer was on the table for anyone to take the test, he took it upon himself to get himself and his family tested. All of them tested negative for the virus.

“Even if it’s not mandatory, I urge the community to get tested, so we can all have that sense of tranquility,” said Borja.

To date, the CNMI has 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 19 recoveries, nine active cases, and two deaths.

COVID-19 in Guam

The Department of Public Health and Social Services tested 198 individuals for COVID-19 on June 10 with conclusive results. Two tested positive and 196 tested negative. One new case of COVID-19 was reported yesterday from the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority.

To date, Guam has 183 confirmed cases, with five deaths (not including the sailor from the USS Theodore Roosevelt who died in Guam), 168 released from isolation, and 10 active cases.

Justine Nauta
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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