The time to act is now


Just going to say what everyone else is saying and wondering: When is the CNMI government going to act aggressively to contain the ongoing community-wide COVID-19 outbreak and when will they reinstitute more restrictive quarantine measures for incoming residents and visitors given the global rise of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant?

Researchers and infectious disease specialists the world over are assessing and trying to quantify the threat posed by the omicron variant. Based on what is presently known, omicron certainly poses an increased risk of transmission and it may evade much of the protection afforded by current vaccines. Countries including Japan and South Korea are closing their borders and restricting travel and entry, all the while it seems that local politicians and bureaucrats ponder what to do next and squander all the hard work they and the citizens of the CNMI have made in order to previously control the virus and excluded it from our communities and schools. Though the CNMI’s high vaccination rate is likely preventing serious cases, the medical support system remains shallow and limited and the threat of serious disease confronts seniors, the unvaccinated, those with serious pre-existing conditions and the immunocompromised.  It’s also a fact that the actual number of infections is likely to be three or more times the number reported and that about 30% of those who are infected by the virus will experience some long-term symptoms/problems like brain fog or a loss of smell or distorted sense of smell.

Even if we are to err, let’s err on the side of caution. It’s time to extend quarantine times, conduct community-wide testing, aggressively administer booster shots throughout the CNMI, enact a limited 10- to 14-day shutdown (except for essential operations, getting food/supplies, getting medical care or exercising) and being diligent to wear a mask and to social distance, especially when indoors. 

The time to act is now.

Mark Farmer
Garapan, Saipan

Contributing Author
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