The CNMI has submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency a $38-million reimbursement request for expenses incurred for its COVID-19 operations.
Patrick Guerrero, the governor’s authorized representative, disclosed this during a radio press briefing Monday, explaining the process where FEMA reviews the documents submitted and creates a project worksheet for funding and reimburse the CNMI for some of the costs that it has aleady incurred for its COVID-19 response.
“We look, in the next week or two, to answer any of their questions after they’ve had some chance to review [the documents we submitted], and hopefully have some good news to report on some funding that’ll be coming in…,” he said.
Aside from the supplies, the CNMI has also requested for FEMA to fund the Kanoa Resort Alternate Care Site, which is being used as an isolation facility for persons under investigation and those with confirmed COVID-19 cases, and Pacific Islands Club Saipan, which is being used as a quarantine facility for incoming passengers.
“We requested from FEMA for the funding of the whole facility, for the facility in its entirety. We’re not open to tourists and any other guests, but we need to maintain every room to be available for the flights that are coming in,” he said, referring to both PIC and Kanoa Resort.
Kanoa and PIC during COVID-19 operations
Kanoa has 224 rooms, and PIC has 308. While hey have not maxed both facilities in terms of capacity, they have come close, according to Guerrero.
“Right now, at PIC, we are at about 170 guests currently staying with us. The need for these quarantine facilities continues. …We’re separating incoming passengers that we hope are not carrying the virus versus those that we know are infected and are under CHCC’s watch,” he said.
The CNMI government inked 90-day contracts for both facilities, which can be terminated at any time, per federal regulations requirement.
“We have used Kanoa so far for about just a little over 60 days, as well as the PIC. We’re coming up on an extension if we do still have the need for quarantine facilities. If not, we’ll be terminating, especially with what might be coming up in the reopening of tourism in the CNMI,” he said. “We are renting the facility in its entirety, and we’re working closely with FEMA. We’ve provided them, I believe, enough justification to say that all of these rooms are on reserve for our quarantine needs.”
Aside from rooms, Kanoa and PIC staff provide services, including housekeeping and handing meals for the guests.
Local agencies have assigned some of their staff at both facilities to assist in the check-in process, and in helping meet some of the guests’ needs. Staff from the Department of Fire Emergency Medical Services is on hand, as well as Department of Public Safety, for security. Staff from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. are also there to make sure guests are taken care of, and for any medical needs.
As for meals, Guerrero said they are still providing meal support to those at the quarantine sites, as well as staff at Kanoa and PIC, “because they have a harder time getting away from their duties there.”
“As far as the cost of these facilities and what we’re paying for, to date, we’ve been working with both properties. They are giving us time to wait for our award from FEMA, to be able to pay for the services that we’ve incurred to date,” he added.