PUA on the way for NMI, cannabis industry to launch
Federal unemployment payments for the Northern Mariana Islands may be sent out within days.

In a July 14 news conference, Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres said he has spoken with the NMI Department of Labor Secretary Victoria I. Benavente about when Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments will be disbursed.

“I think they’ll be processing checks by this Friday [July 17], if not sooner,” said Torres.

According to the governor, he will be meeting with the COVID-19 task force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. to further discuss if the NMI will remain as code “blue” on its color grading scale and other related protocols. The NMI has been preparing to reopen for tourists on July 15.

“We want to work with our market — Korea, especially, and Japan,” said Torres.

The governor also said he wants to work with airline companies, such as Skymark Airlines Inc., to create a “special program” which balances the need for tourism and health protection of tourists and the local community.

Additionally, Torres said later this week he will be in Tinian as he continues to promote the NMI in an ongoing series of videos for the YouTube channel “Deer Meat for Dinner.” Robert Arrington, who runs the YT channel, shares his hunting, fishing and other expeditions on the platform.

“I am here to protect our environment and also promote tourism — high end tourism … I believe this is the right time for us to be promoting up north,” said Torres.

Postings on social media have been critical of a trip to Pagan Torres and others made with Arrington.

Warren Villagomez, chairman of the COVID-19 task force, said the Mariana Resort & Spa may be used this week if there is a “spillover” capacity-wise at Kanoa Resort Saipan, the primary government quarantine facility. The Mariana Resort has about 180 available rooms.

The NMI Cannabis Commission plans to open its office and launch its website in August, according to Nadine Deleon Guerrero, chairwoman of the commission.

Deleon Guerrero also said that two investors she has been in discussion with — one based in Boston, Mass. and another in Washington state — are “for sure” interested, while other investors are unsure because of the NMI’s quarantine protocols.

The establishment of the NMI’s commercial, medical and recreational cannabis industry would diversify its economy, which is reliant on tourism.

“We think this is going to be a very good thing for the CNMI,” said Monique Sablan, managing director of the NMI Cannabis Commission.


Spouse of federal official arrested
The husband of a U.S. Department of Security agent remains in jail in Saipan after refusing to quarantine on July 11 on arrival at the Francisco C. Ada International Airport.

Both the agent and her husband initially refused mandatory quarantine at the Kanoa Resort, though the agent later agreed.

The male passenger was arrested for obstruction of justice and brought to the to the Department of Corrections, where his temperature reading was recorded above 100° F, then transported to the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. (where he undertook the COVID-19 test. After negative results he was returned to DOC.  


Women’s chamber and GHRA want alcohol sales at restaurants
Following a trend in the U.S. mainland and internationally, the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association wrote to Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero advocating take-out alcohol sales with take- out meals.

Guidelines the associations suggested were the food establishment possess a current ABC license, beverages in pre-packaged containers with a secure lid or cap and presenting consumption without the removal of the lid or cap, a limit of three beverages per meal ordered and posting of an open container law warning.


Grow your own
The Department of Agriculture in Mangilao will be distributing free home gardening kits on July 18 from 9 a.m.

The kits are through a grant awarded to I Hagan Famalåo’an Guåhan. More than 200 kits were distributed on July 11, according to DOA.


Zero test positive in Guam for July 13
The Department of Public Health and Social Services tested 101 people on July 13; DSL (private laboratory) tested 51, Guam Memorial Hospital 35, and GRMC 8, with no positive results   among the total 195. mbj