18 May 2020

Covid-19 cases rise to 21 in CNMI

10:28 am on 18 May 2020

The Northern Marianas reported Covid-19 cases has risen to 21, two additional people were recently confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus.

Saipan in the Northern Marianas.

Saipan in the Northern Marianas. Photo: Supplied

The Governor's Covid-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation said the two new cases are a 31 year-old male and a 22 year-old female.

They were identified through contact tracing and are in stable condition and safely isolated at Kanoa Resort.

The two are asymptomatic, meaning they don't show symptoms of Covid-19, and are contacts of previously diagnosed cases that reside in the CNMI.

Specimens were collected, processed, and confirmed positive at the Corporation's laboratory.

Medical teams are closely monitoring the new cases the corporation has already initiated contact tracing for the most immediate contacts (close family members, friends, and associates) of these new confirmed cases.

As it stands, the CNMI's Covid-19 count is now at 21 with seven active cases, 12 recoveries, and two deaths.

CNMI to increase mass testing

In an effort to gauge the real number of infections in the islands, the CNMI will be ramping up its mass testing campaign by conducting a community-based testing initiative to test residents for covid-19.

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation said there was no fixed date yet on when this is going to happen, but its medical teams will be going to specific areas of the Commonwealth to administer the test for the virus.

Mass testing on Tinian and Rota also got underway last week after residents of Saipan first had it last month.

The coast of Rota in the CNMI.

The coast of Rota in the CNMI. Photo: CT Snow

The health corporation's chief executive officer Esther Muna pointed out that it was uncommon for all jurisdictions to have the testing capabilities that the CNMI has, and that the islands were very fortunate to be able to test the entire community.

Govt to partially reopen today

The Northern Marianas Governor Ralph Torres also announced last week that his administration will partially open government offices starting today, 18 May.

Mr Torres said the opening of the government would be done in phases with the first week having employees coming in half-day, from 8am to 12pm.

Effective May 24, government offices will be open for the regular hours maintained by the office prior to the shutdown caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

Government employees with partial work hours can apply for administrative leave to complete their weekly work schedule while still being under austerity Fridays.

The CNMI Public School System also expects to bring back a handful of furloughed employees for training for the upcoming school year after receiving much-needed funds from the CARES Act.

The over 500 essential employees that are expected to be "unfurloughed" include teacher and instructors, as well as employees who deal with students one-on-one.