Torres to public: Live normally

Posted on Mar 12 2020

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios present to the public the COVID-19 Task Force composed of 10 key departments, agencies, and stakeholders yesterday at the Office of the Governor conference room. (IVA MAURIN)

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres created and presented to the public yesterday a COVID-19 Task Force with the twin message of steps being taken to keep the CNMI coronavirus-free and for the public not to panic and to “live your life normal[ly].”

The task force, which brings together 10 key departments, agencies, and stakeholders, is intended to focus on three major concerns: tourism, residents, and schools. Above all that, however, is taking care of the community’s health, Torres said. “Our health care is more important than anything,” he said.

Since January 2009, the governor has been meeting with the agencies that make up the task force to address the scope of COVID-19. Yesterday’s announcement is just a formalization and unification of all efforts being done by the agencies since news about the virus broke.

Recognizing the dire situation on the island, and that the threat of the virus is causing some people to panic, the governor appealed to people to calm down and to live their lives normally, assuring that the task force is working hard to prevent any potential coronavirus from entering the islands.

“Today, we continue to invite our tourists to come to our beautiful islands, to come to the Northern Mariana Islands because it’s coronavirus-free, it is beautiful, and we continue to encourage our community to live their life normal,” he said.

The governor also said that the task force is currently working on getting federal assistance to cushion the local economy from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 scare.

“We know that our China market is about 38%. But that was not the issue. The issue is what should we do to address this concern on our island. We have 55,000 population and one incident is a big issue,” he said.

The governor wants to assure everyone, though, that should an issue arise, he has direct contact with Vice President Mike Pence, whom U.S. President Donald J. Trump has appointed to handle the national coronavirus effort. Torres has already informed Trump of the CNMI’s economic situation, and has appealed for help.

The local COVID-19 Task Force include the Office of the Governor, Commonwealth Health Care Corp., Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Commonwealth Ports Authority, Marianas Visitors Authority, Department of Public Safety, Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Department of Finance, Northern Marianas College, and the Public School System.

It will do outreach, facilitate health screenings and establish quarantine protocols for tourists and travelers, increase security in the borders, put up cost-containment measures, and ensure the safety of and the unhampered education of students through transitions to online classes.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at iva_maurin@saipantribune.com
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