Gov. Ralph DLG Torres appealed yet again to everyone in the CNMI to take the social distancing directive seriously and to stay home. Following the announcement of two positive COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth, Torres reiterated the importance of staying home to help diminish the spread of the novel coronavirus on the islands.
“With the challenges that we have in front of us and for our community, please take this seriously—stay home. Stop social gathering. That includes the beach, that includes other parks, walkways. Folks, we’ve done so much to protect you and your families. All we ask is for you to cooperate,” the governor said.
Over the last few months, the government has been implementing measures related to the threat of COVID-19, starting in Jan. 29, when Torres declared a state of significant emergency in the CNMI.
Flights were monitored, and consultations with the business sector transpired to see how the economic downturn, brought about by the significant drop in the number of tourists on the islands, could affect not just businesses but also employees.
In February, banks were asked to grant loan deferments for residents.
“Over the last few months, as a Commonwealth, we have done a lot to stop the spread of COVID-19 here on our islands. Efforts increased over the last few weeks through the COVID-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Health Care Corp.,” the governor added.
The CNMI was placed under state of public health emergency and continuing state of significant emergency in March, which necessitated government shutdown, the closure of man’amko centers, and the suspension of public schools.
“To the people of the CNMI, we have done everything we could to be proactive as a government, as business partners in this community, and implement strict social distancing procedures to keep you, your families, our man’amko, and our loved ones with pre-existing illnesses safe,” Torres said. “We have closed down all schools, both public and private, restrict hours of public accommodations, and implement curfew for minors under 18 years of age. In addition to our active airport surveillance, we have enforced mandatory quarantine procedures, screening all travelers, including residents inbound to the CNMI.”
Hundreds of first responders from the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Department of Public Safety, Commonwealth Ports Authority, and the Division of Customs have been deployed to help in the COVID-19 efforts.
The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, too, was enlisted to provide for mass-care service at Kanoa Resort, which serves as the quarantine facility on the island.
Assistance from the federal government has been requested, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to mobilize federal resources to aid in the CNMI government’s response to this pandemic.