‘We’re not out of the woods yet’

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Editor’s Note: This story is part of the “Game Plan” series that Saipan Tribune is publishing this week. It is intended to give a look into the CNMI’s game plan in terms of reopening the CNMI and restarting its economy.

With no new COVID-19 positive cases in the CNMI for over a week now, the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., with the Office of the Governor and the COVID-19 Task Force, will be determining what government services can be made available soon in the Commonwealth.

CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña said that plans will have to be made in terms of limiting the services to make sure that there will be no “second wave” of the coronavirus infections in the CNMI, especially as flights start to resume.

“We’ll be working with [Gov. Ralph DLG Torres] and the Task Force to come up with a plan on…what services can be had,” Muña said in an interview. “Right now, we have a lot of services that are available. Limited, though. What are the things that we need to do to make sure that there’s not a second wave? And [what services] to continue as the airplanes fly back in?”

Muña also said that the CNMI needs to be cautious about not having any new cases, that messages on social distancing and proper hygiene should remain so the community would be safe.

“We need to make sure that we do it the right way. Do it slowly, but do it with the effectiveness of making sure our population is good, then we need to make sure that it doesn’t come back again. We need to make sure of that,” she added.

Torres is appreciative of the community’s effort to commit to COVID-19 directives that are in place. “I really want to thank our community for your help in following the directives that has really helped flatten the curve. I cannot do it alone. The lieutenant governor cannot do it alone. Our medical staff cannot do it alone, not even the first responders. But [we can] as a community,” he added.

The governor echoed Muña in asking the community to continue to follow the directives on social distancing and proper hygiene.

“We continue to practice social distancing, to practice proper hygiene and wearing masks. It’s uncomfortable but when you go home and your family is safe, this inconvenience, this uncomfortableness, means nothing when you come home safe to your family,” he added.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, but if we continue to do this as one community, I’m certain that we will flatten the curve for all of us,” Torres added.

“Flattening the curve” means the idea of slowing a virus’ spread, hence measures such as social distancing and self-isolation.

Iva Maurin | Author
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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