Mask requirement eased


With the CNMI now at “Medium” level based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s community level metric system, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force are easing the mask-wearing rule, making it now a personal choice whether you want to wear a mask or not.

CHCC and the COVID-19 Task Force officially announced yesterday that the CNMI has progressed to “Medium” level in the CDC’s new COVID-19 metrics due to the significant reduction in daily COVID-19 cases this past week.

At Medium level, mask wearing will no longer be required both indoors and outdoors; instead, mask wearing is now based on personal preference.

However, for those who are immunocompromised or at a high risk for severe disease, CHCC encourages these individuals to talk to their healthcare provider about whether a mask is needed or to take other precautions.

The Commonwealth Health Center hospital will continue to require visitors and clinic patients to wear masks in patient-serving areas.

Aside from easing mask requirements, protocols for incoming travelers have also been eased.

Effective March 26, all travelers entering the CNMI by air or sea will no longer be tested on arrival or on their fifth-day after arrival.

All travelers are still required to complete a mandatory health declaration form and should continue to wear a well-fitted mask if they must be around others or, if they develop symptoms, they should get tested.

Travelers who are not up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines are encouraged to get tested five days after arrival but are not required to do so.

Guam has also adjusted its COVID-19 Community Level to “Moderate,” based on the latest available data.

In a previous interview with CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muna, she explained that the CNMI has remained on “High” level for weeks due to the high volume of daily COVID-19 cases. However, for the past week, the CNMI’s daily case rate has consistently been in the double-digits range only, which has prompted CHCC to transition to “Medium” level.

“The only thing that really put us in that High level [was] our daily cases. So if you are at least 200 per week in a seven-day period per 100,000 population, you won’t be able to go to the low level until you go below the 200 per 100,000 population in a week. The thing is, if you are high and you are low in some areas, you have to choose the high level,” she said.

In the past week, the number of daily cases has dropped to the 30’s, according to CHCC COVID-19 reports.

According to a recent press release from the Governor’s Office, as of March 24, the CNMI has reported a total of 11,022 cases of COVID-19, with 1 in 5 CNMI citizens estimated to have contracted the disease.

Meanwhile, a total of 223 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19 (2.1% of cases) and 33 people have died due to COVID-19 for an overall case fatality rate of 0.3%, lower than almost every other U.S. jurisdiction and most countries.

“Due to the high vaccination rate against COVID-19 in the CNMI and availability of treatments such as monoclonal antibodies, rates of severe COVID-19 have been low,” the release stated.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at
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