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‘Modified quarantine only for those vaccinated in CNMI’

Posted on May 04 2021

Only those who have been fully vaccinated in the CNMI are allowed to avail of the modified quarantine, according to Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther Muña, because it’ll be easy to validate their vaccination cards.

Muña said in an interview that the system they have in place can only verify those who are fully vaccinated in the CNMI. That qualifies them to be categorized as belonging to Group A, which refers to people who are eligible to quarantine at home.

She added, though, that they are currently working with Guam to put in place a system where the CNMI can verify vaccination cards from Guam. According to Muña, Guam is also open to working with the CNMI in validating its vaccination cards and wants the same system in place where they can also validate CNMI vaccination cards.

As for other jurisdictions, Muña said there are too many phone numbers to call, and they wouldn’t know if the verification will be valid since “the validation has to be certain.” Muña said if CHCC can call another jurisdiction in the middle of the day to ask if a person is fully vaccinated and is certain that they are vaccinated, then they can work with them with quarantine protocols but, as for now, the modified quarantine is strictly for returning residents who are vaccinated in the CNMI.

“So, when we’re saying Guam only, [it’s] because we actually had a conversation with them about that because they are trying to do the same thing, but once there’s a system in place that that can make it happen, [we’re] absolutely open to [other jurisdictions],” said Muña. “It is about information system that we can access and right now the only information system about vaccination that we can access are the ones that were vaccinated here in the CNMI. So even if you’re not a resident, and you got your vaccination here, we will be able to allow you to quarantine at home, basically under Group A.”

Muña said they are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to see if there’s a shared information system that they can access.

“If that’s not possible, then what we can do with the separate jurisdiction…it could be, for example, having a point of contact there and a point of contact here [to verify information]. That could be the other option,” said Muña.

As the CNMI finished off the first week of its modified quarantine, Muña says it went as expected. She said there was an average of five to 10 people per flight who were eligible for Group A.

CHCC updated its traveler protocols entering the CNMI last April 27. These are the following:

– Group A: Travelers fully vaccinated in the CNMI;

– Group B1: Critical essential workers approved by the CNMI health official;

– Group B2: Essential workers approved by the CNMI health official who have proof of vaccination;

– Group B3: Essential workers that are approved by the CNMI health official who are not vaccinated or do not have proof of vaccination;

– Group C: Travelers from a Level 1 jurisdiction according to CDC COVID-19 travel;

– Group D: Travelers who do not qualify for Group A, B1, B2, B3, or C (Standard quarantine at designated government quarantine facility; will be tested on fifth day)

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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