Torres: CNMI has PPE stockpile to last several months

Posted on Jun 22 2020

With an initial projection that the CNMI will have a peak of 6,000 COVID-19 infections by mid-June, the CNMI was able to stockpile personal protective equipment to last for the next three to four months or more. So far, the CNMI has been able to keep its infections number at a low 30, and this means the CNMI has more than enough PPEs on hand.

“With the success that we are having as a community…we’re able to expend those PPEs for a longer period of time, and if we can maintain the numbers, we may not have to spend a penny more for the next month,” said Gov. Ralph DLG Torres at his radio news briefing last Thursday.

Torres stated that they seized every opportunity they had to get their hands on PPEs, guided by the projected number of cases and based on the recommendation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As for the test kits, based on the 50,000 population of the CNMI, Torres said that they wanted to order 20% more “just in case.”

“Now that we’re seeing that this is going to be a longer process, we do have test kits, but we’re ordering other parts of the test itself like reagents, swabs, and more,” said Torres.

With some concerns that the test kits may not be accurate, Torres assured that the ones in the CNMI have are backed with an Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are expected to soon be FDA approved, so there’s should be no question as to how accurate they are because “we have as accurate as any test kit, if not, even better.”

Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther Muña, who was also with Torres at the press briefing, said that every test is evaluated at CHCC to make a final decision. She pointed out that there’s always a possibility of a false positive or false negative, not only for COVID-19 tests but for every test at any hospital. “Nothing is perfect, but that’s why you have the clinical aspect there,” said Muña. “Community-based testing, for example, the results of those are reviewed by our providers [or] pathologists and our medical doctors…”

“…Our laboratory technicians and professionals at CHCC are credentialed. They’re highly qualified,” said Warren Villagomez, who chairs the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Additionally, Villagomez said that CHCC goes through credentialing and the laboratory personnel are recognized by the United States credentialing committee, clinical laboratory improvement amendments, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“Please be assured that the results that are coming out are looked at very closely,” said Villagomez.

To date, the CNMI has a total of 30 confirmed cases, with five active cases and two deaths.

Justine Nauta | Correspondent
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.
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