No quarantine for fully vaxxed travelers in vaccinated homes

Posted on Nov 17 2021

Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther L. Muña, second from right, makes a presentation during yesterday’s “Safe Travel Summit” at the Kensington Hall of the Kensington Hotel Saipan. Others in photo are, seated from left, Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force chair Warren F. Villagomez, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, and regional epidemiologist Stephanie Kern-Allely. (JOSHUA SANTOS)

Effective Nov. 19, fully vaccinated travelers with proof of a fully vaccinated household will no longer need to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated travelers with a household that is not verified to be fully vaccinated will have to quarantine at a designated site for five days. Unvaccinated travelers will have to quarantine at a designated site for seven days.

These are the upcoming changes to the CNMI’s COVID-19 quarantine protocols that were unveiled yesterday during the “CNMI Safe Travel Summit” at the Kensington Hall at Kensington Hotel Saipan.

The event, organized by the CNMI Office of the Governor, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., and the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force, was attended by many of the CNMI’s public and private sector stakeholders.

CHCC chief executive officer Esther L. Muña said these new changes take into consideration the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current quarantine guidelines, President Joe Biden’s recent order that foreign arrivals to the U.S. must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before boarding a plane to the U.S., CHCC’s current understanding of community transmission of COVID-19 in households, and CHCC’s current understanding of how being vaccinated help break the chains of transmission in these households.

“Using our evidence of fully vaccinated home protection, we see a lot more [that] the spread is coming from household infections. …We want to be able to use what we know [in tandem with] the CDC guidelines,” said Muña.

She added that a policy like this has been in place before and that fully vaccinated travelers must submit verifiable documentation that they and their households are fully vaccinated in order to bypass quarantine. “We’ve done this before, we’re going to do it again,” she said.

Muña said she, CHCC, and the CNMI’s other health leaders will soon be meeting with hotels regarding these protocol changes, and said that they are ready to implement these changes. She also said that there will be improvements made to contact tracing and vaccination records verification to reduce wait times.

“We’re going to be talking to the hotels later on, [and] this is what the new protocols will be. It’s going to take effect Nov. 19, [and] we’re ready. We’re going to make sure that there’s quicker response from contact tracing [and] quicker response for vaccination records verification so that an individual does not have to wait,” said Muña.

She said the focus will be shifting to community-based testing and that these changes effective Nov. 19 will open up opportunities for more changes in the future.

“We’re going to focus on community-based testing [and] bringing more testing to the community, but we can’t do that when everything else that we’re doing really focuses only on the border when we already know that the science and guidelines are there. We want to move forward, and this will open up the opportunity for other changes in protocols. …Let’s work together,” said Muña.

Muña also touched on current public health measures and challenges and opportunities that CHCC has seen so far in the current COVID-19 safety protocols.

Joshua Santos | Reporter
Joshua Santos is a Mount Carmel School AlumKnight and University of Florida Gator Grad with a passion for writing. He is one of Saipan Tribune’s newest reporters. Josh enjoys golf, chess, and playing video games with friends in his spare time. Reach out to him @rarebasedjosh on all socials.
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