‘No severe COVID-19 yet due to our high vaccination rate’

Posted on Nov 23 2021

Since Oct. 28, 2021, there have been 183 cases of COVID-19 in the CNMI and, although majority of these cases were symptomatic, the CNMI has not had a case yet of anyone experiencing severe symptoms of the disease, according to Stephanie Kern-Allely, who is

a regional communicable disease epidemiologist for the Pacific Island Health Officers Association.

In a virtual news briefing yesterday that was also attended by Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther L. Muña, Kern-Allely credits the absence of severe COVID-19 in the CNMI thus far to the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines and the CNMI’s high vaccination rate.

Kern-Allely presented the latest data on the CNMI’s most recent cases of COVID-19, including the sex, ages, and vaccination statuses of the cases, and how these cases were identified.

It was learned that, as of Nov. 21, there are 97 active cases in the CNMI and one active hospitalization. In total, the CNMI has had 474 cases.

Of the 183 cases since Oct. 28, it was learned that 77 were female and 106 were male.

As to how these 183 cases were identified, Kern-Allely reported that 119 were found through contact tracing, 32 through community-based testing, 21 through COVID-19 testing at the hospital, and 11 through travel testing.

By age, 13 cases were aged 4 years or younger; 53 cases were aged 5 to 19 years old; 81 were aged 20 to 49; 30 were aged 50 to 64; and six were aged 65 and older.

By vaccination status, 108 individuals or 59% were fully vaccinated, 35 individuals or 19% were unvaccinated, 31 individuals or 17% were ineligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and nine individuals or 5% were partially vaccinated.

Kern-Allely noted that some individuals in the “ineligible” category are children aged 5 to 11 who were unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the time they were identified as positive. As of Oct. 29, COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 have been approved.

Kern-Allely added that some children aged 5 to 11 are also included in the “partially vaccinated” category. These children have already gotten their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine but may have had the virus transmitted to them before their bodies developed immunity.

Kern-Allely said that the high proportion of fully vaccinated individuals testing positive is primarily due to, numbers-wise, the fact that the CNMI has quite a high vaccination rate. Kern-Allely said that breakthrough cases are expected.

As for contact tracing efforts, Kern-Allely reported that a vast majority of the cases since Oct. 28 have been linked to at least one other case and that there are one to two unlinked cases for now.

Kern-Allely later in the briefing clarified that these unlinked cases are being investigated by the contact tracing team and that the known linkages of new cases to previous cases are being constantly updated.

“There may be times where we do not identify a link and that may be due to resolution of infection or a number of other reasons. The only way to get the virus is from another person, so we know there must’ve been transmission somehow,” she said.

Kern-Allely also reported the types of exposure from one case to another as of Oct. 28. Of the 177, 109 cases were exposed to COVID-19 through household transmission; 38 cases through workplaces; 12 through schools; 11 through travel; and seven through community-based transmission.

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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