Widened mass testing in place

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Posted on May 29 2020

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As the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. continues with its mass testing at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport, plans are now in place to widen that initiative into the community.

Although many challenges still remain, one potential plan would be for health care workers to go to a specific site, obtain swab specimens from residents and bring them back to the hospital for testing, said CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muña.

For this, CHCC is working with the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force to be able to use vans of the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority to bring people who might not have transportation to go to the testing site, she added.

Additionally, with CHCC doing an average of 200 swabs per day at the mass testing site, Muña said that they have obtained the assistance of the South Korean lab scientist, who came to the CNMI to ensure that the testing machine obtained from Seoul is working properly, to increase their testing output. This means that with the help of the South Korean lab scientist, CHCC will be able to churn out more test results.

“We will eventually get there, but it’s the output that’s always a challenge,” said Muña. “As you get 200 [swabs] per day, you’re going to eventually fall behind.”

Warren Villagomez, the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force chairman, chimed in and said as Muna continues to push the efforts of testing every day, Torres is pushing the Kagman Community Health Center to “lean forward and provide resources that’s needed for this community-based testing.”

Villagomez said that the task force has outlined plans for Kagman, Koblerville, Garapan, and other vulnerable population, and that they will be announcing the plans shortly. “We want to make sure that there’s good quality control and quality assurance,” he said, “making sure that accurate results are being done for the community.”

Villagomez said that the community-based testing has been going well on all three islands, as well as the construction of the Alternative Care Site at Kanoa Resort. “The Alternative Care Site is moving full throttle, to have a facility in place for our community and to serve in the event that we need its services,” he said.

COVID-19 in Guam

The Department of Public Health and Social Services tested 64 individuals for COVID-19 on May 27 and one tested positive and 63 tested negative.

According to the Joint Information Center in Guam, one new probable case of COVID-19 was reported earlier to DPHSS from the Guam Regional Medical City.

To date, there have been 171 cases confirmed through COVID-19 testing in Guam, with five deaths, 143 released from isolation, and 23 active cases.

Justine Nauta
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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