‘Some DOC staff working 16-hour shifts’
What remains of Department of Corrections staff have been spread thin due to the lack of manpower after a handful of officers tested positive for COVID-19.
According to a source who works at Corrections, he and others have been working over 12 hours at a time after a good chunk of their staff tested positive for COVID-19.
“We’re spread so thin now. I have colleagues who are working over 16-hour shifts just to cover for those who are quarantined right now,” he said.
The source said those who remain are barely getting enough sleep.
“We’re extremely tired, we’re barely getting enough rest or spending time without families. However, I’m still thankful I tested negative for COVID-19. That’s the bright side of this situation,” he said.
Saipan Tribune has tried numerous times to reach out to Corrections Commissioner Wally Villagomez for a statement on the matter but he has yet to respond.
Currently, DOC officers who tested positive for COVID-19 are being housed at the former Mango Resort in Koblerville.
Saipan Tribune learned there are about 18 rooms currently being occupied by DOC officers and DOC inmates who contracted the COVID-19 virus.
Earlier this month, about 27 rooms were occupied by DOC officers and inmates.
The renovations for Mango Resort to turn the site into a quarantine facility started back in November. The first half of the site was completed earlier this month to accommodate the inmates and officers. It was learned that the target completion date of construction is January 2022.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, DOC actually got assistance from the Department of Public Safety, which sent about 10 to 20 police officers to DOC to ease the manpower problem. Unfortunately, many of those police officers also caught the COVID-19 virus.
House of Representatives vice speaker Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan), who disclosed the situation at a House session last week, emphasized the need to help DOC with its emergency hiring of Corrections officers to stem the worsening manpower shortage situation.
He said the proper House committee should look into this issue and look at the opportunity if there’s financial assistance that could be extended to DOC.