No good news yet for tourism or Guam economy

In the first administration news conference in several days – on July 8, Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero said that despite the fact that the situation in Guam seems positive overall, she does not have a date to open tourism or take further measures to open businesses.

“We are looking for the next week and a half to see how things are going,” she said.

The governor said as far as opening tourism, “We still have to discuss how we would treat inbound travelers.” Requirements for incoming visitors are not set yet, she said.

She said requirements might depend on where visitors arrive from.

As of July 8 – when four additional positives were announced, there have been a total of 307 Guam confirmed cases with 5 deaths, 202 released from isolation, and 100 active cases. Of those cases, 261 are classified as civilians and 46 are military service members. 

The island has seen an increase of 36 positives in seven days.

Both the governor and Dr. Felix Cabrera – who spoke at the news conference for the Physicians Advisory Group – said the increase was to be expected. While that is high, the positivity rates and hospitalizations remain low.

 

No NMI PUA payments yet, US leaving WHO a minus

In a July 8 news conference, Victoria I. Benavente, secretary of the Northern Mariana Islands’ Department of Labor, declined to provide a specific date regarding Pandemic Unemployment Assistance disbursement. “We are not at that point now,” she said.Payments were set to be received within seven to 10 business days after completed applications have been submitted and verified for accuracy to DOL, according to Benavente.

Another webinar will be held virtually via Zoom on July 9 with step-by-step guidance and answers to commonly asked questions of the application process for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. Because Zoom conferences are limited to 100 participants, it will also be livestreamed on the Office of the Governor’s Facebook page, which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/GovernorCNMI.

As previously reported in the Journal, NMI DOL is expecting a turnout of approximately 10,000 PUA applications.

Warren Villagomez, chairman of the governor’s COVID-19 task force, said village-based testing is still under discussion and there is no set date for it to begin yet.

A July 6 letter to the United Nations said the U.S. is formally withdrawing as a member of the World Health Organization, effective on July 6, 2021.

Esther Muna, CEO of Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., said the withdrawal will have a “big impact” on the NMI. “Losing that [support] will be significant for us. It’s sad news for us. They sent PPEs our way … gene expert supplies for testing, kits and other supplies. WHO opened that access.”   

The NMI, Guam and some 35 countries and areas are members of the WHO’s Western Pacific Region.

The governor said at the Adelup press conference that losing the WHO membership means less expertise and advise available.

 

Roundtable on FEMA response to Pacific disasters

The Northern Mariana Islands Delegate to Congress, Gregorio “Kilili” Camacho Sablan will lead a  livestreamed roundtable discussion at 4 p.m. Eastern Time or 6 a.m. Chamorro Standard Time on July 9 on the “Federal Emergency Management Agency Response to Pacific Natural Disasters in 2018.”

The speakers will be Robert J. Fenton, Region IX regional administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Chris Currie, director, of the Homeland Security and Justice Team, of the Government Accountability Office

The event will focus on preliminary findings of a forthcoming Government Accountability Office report, including the fact that the Northern Mariana Islands is still waiting on approximately $20 million in unfinished Federal Emergency Management Agency repair work nearly two years after Super Typhoon Yutu struck in 2018, according to a July 6 release from the House Natural Resources Democrats.

The Journal was told that the report is expected sometime towards the end of the year.

 

All bets are off, AG said

Guam’s attorney general, Leewin Camacho, filed opposition – a Stay of Execution – to a request by game room operators to postpone a Superior Court of Guam decision on prohibiting electronic gaming devices, according to a July 7 release.

Guam Music Inc. had filed a notice to appeal, joined by Atlas Amusement Enterprises Inc. days later.

Guam Music stated it had applied for federal COVID-19 assistance and would not receive loan forgiveness if the judgement is enforced.

The AG’s office said that Guam Music had known the risks with its application and said the company’s statements were speculative in nature.

The AG said it is “against the public interest” to restart what he said is illegal gambling.

 

Businesses launch apps

BankPacific announced a new version of its mobile app, it said in a July 7 release. The date is also the bank’s 66th anniversary it said.

Docomo Pacific announced July 7 the Skiplino app, which calculates travel time for Guam and Saipan customers with appointments to its stores and adjusts for delays and if cancellations occur. mbj