Military to test (some) of its traveling personnel
The U.S. Department of Defense announced Nov. 1 it will “begin rapid, on-site COVID-19 testing for passengers departing Baltimore Washington International Airport and Seattle Tacoma Airport aboard Patriot Express flights for official duty at overseas locations.”
Previously passengers were screened and had temperatures taken but were not required to take a COVID test before travel.
However, only 10% to 15% of those screened who are not exhibiting symptoms will now be subject to a rapid, on-site laboratory test prior to travel.
Flights on the Guam to Seattle-Tacoma route refuel in Alaska, but do not board passengers there.
The DoD’s decision came days after the announcement on Oct. 28 that two civilians from the U.S. mainland who arrived direct from Honolulu at the U.S. Army Base at Kwajalein Atoll had tested positive.
Travelers may fly to the Kwajalein base, but undergo three weeks quarantine on arrival there.
A United flight repatriated 27 Marshallese who flew from Hawaii to the base on Oct. 31, and who are now quarantined there for three weeks, according to the Marshall Islands Journal.
The Office of the President of the Federated States of Micronesia immediately canceled an Air Marshalls flight due to repatriate FSM citizens from Majuro on Oct. 30.
The FSM is planning to repatriate citizens in coordination with the U.S. military as part of the annual Christmas Drop in December, according to an Oct. 28 release. Assuming that effort goes ahead, the Office of the President told the Journal it’s not yet known if the aircraft will be a C130 or a Patriot Express plane.
Second undersea cable for Palau announced
As part of regional development agreed at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 in Hanoi, Vietnam, the U. S. Department of State announced Oct. 29 that the U.S., Australia, Japan, and Palau are moving forward with the financing for the construction of an undersea fiber optic cable to Palau which will ensure “reliable, secure digital connectivity in Palau.” The project, valued at approximately $30 million, will connect to a new undersea cable financed by the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. That cable will be the world’s longest, spanning from Singapore to the U.S., according to the release.
This marks the first project delivered under the Trilateral Partnership for Infrastructure Investment in the Indo-Pacific between the U.S., Australia, and Japan. U.S. Government financial support for the cable connection project comes from U.S. Department of the Interior Compact Funding, USAID, and the U.S. government’s Transaction Advisory Fund.
This will be Palau’s second cable, according to Journal files, and is designed to provide redundancy.
In May, the Australian government allocated funding of $561,000 for a marine survey for the second cable.
In 2016, Australia provided Palau AU $2,000,000 to land the first submarine cable and support regulatory and policy reforms in Palau’s information and communications sector, according to Journal files.
Palau’s first fiber optic cable went live Dec. 7, 2017 according to Journal files. The Palau Spur interconnects with the existing SEA-US submarine cable, which connects the Philippines and Indonesia to the west coast of the United States via Guam and Hawaii, from a branching unit located between the Philippines and Guam. The Palau Spur had an initial design capacity of 500 gigabits per second.
UOG to move ahead with Vision 2025 projects
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is allocating $21.7 million to the University of Guam Endowment Foundation to fund two projects at the University of Guam, according to an Oct. 31 release.
According to Journal files, both projects are in UOG’s Vision 2025, developed in 2013 – the School of Engineering and the Student Success Center.
UOG had already signed a $5.4 million contract with Bascon Corp. to build the new School of Engineering.
Because UOG did not complete the project within five years of when the USDA loan was signed, in 2014, under federal rules, interim financing from a private firm must now secured to jumpstart the project. Toward the end, USDA would then reimburse what was borrowed.
“As the end five years came around, the project was finally ready to start, we had to tell them they couldn’t do anything,” Joseph Diego, area director of the USDA Rural Development Office for the Western Pacific, told the Journal in November 2019. “We’re working with them simultaneously [on a] new application to reset the timeline for the loan. … We are just about there,” he said at the time.
The problems were attributed to securing a contractor and a lack of skilled labor in general.
The School of Engineering will be constructed in front of the Agriculture & Life Sciences Building, while the Student Success Center, with an estimated cost of $18 million, will be located where the existing student center sits.
Guam COVID hospitalizations continue; NMI finds more COVID cases on arrival
|COVID HOSPITAL CENSUS|
AS OF NOVEMBER 2, 2020
|Guam Memorial Hospital||Guam Regional Medical City||U.S. Naval Hospital||Total|
As of Nov. 2, Guam hospitalizations at the island’s three hospitals continued at more than 100. The Joint Information Center reported three positives out of 101 tests that day, with nine out of 111 on Nov. 1, and 53 out of 423 on Oct. 31. As of Nov. 2, Guam had 79 deaths, 1,948 cases in active isolation and 2,666 not in active isolation. An 80th fatality was announced Nov. 3, with outreach testing continuing in Dededo on Nov. 7.
The Guam National Guard’s Task Force Engineer and Surgeon installed two Blu-Med Tents outside the Guam Regional Medical City Emergency Room in Dededo on Nov. 2. The tents have capabilities that include negative pressure to maintain a sanitary working environment ideal for treating COVID-19 patients. Guam Department of Public Works staff attended the installation to learn how to erect and disassemble the equipment. The Government of Guam has ten tents, purchased with CARES Act funding, which arrived on island the week of Oct. 29.
The Northern Mariana Islands announced Oct. 31 that four more individuals tested positive for COVID on arrival in Saipan. Commonwealth Health Care Corp. contact tracing begins immediately, to include passengers on the same flight when cases are identified.
The NMI COVID-19 Task Force will continue monitoring community adherence to emergency regulations it began on Oct. 31 for Halloween, to include All Souls Day and Election Day, its chairman Warren Villagomez said at an Oct. 29 press conference. Additional personnel from the NMI government have been reallocated for that, he said.
Comment period for surface danger zone open
The Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Oct. 31 a 30-day public comment period regarding the establishment of a surface danger zone adjacent to the Mason Live-Fire Training Range Complex.
The public may submit comments by Nov. 30 via
- http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions on the website for submitting comments;
- Email to [email protected]. Include the docket number COE-2020-0015 in the subject line of the message; or
- Via Mail to theU.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Attn: CECW-CO-R (David B.
Olson), 441 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20314-1000.
The Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to revise its existing regulations to establish a surface danger zone at MCB Camp Blaz. The Marine Corps requested establishment of a surface danger zone extending over the waters adjacent to the Mason LFTRC. This action is necessary to ensure the safety of the public and facilitate ongoing military training in the area, according to the announcement. More information is available on the federal register website.
First Ayuda I Magofna checks mailed out
The Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation mailed out the first checks and a total of 305 AIM Program payments totaling $172,500, according to an Oct. 30 release. The AIM Program is intended to provide assistance to eligible Guam families with young adults, students and disabled individuals above 16 years old who are claimed as dependents. These families with these dependents were overlooked under the CARES Act of 2020 and did not receive the economic impact payment for these dependents. Residents can apply until Nov. 12.
Exercises round Guam
- The A.B. Won Pat International Airport will hold an exercise Nov. 4 from 8 a.m. to noon to test the airport’s emergency response. Airports are required to hold such exercises every three years under federal regulations.
- Andersen Air Force Base will hold the annual Exercise Slingstone Nov. 5 to simulate responses to emergency situations such as chemical and conventional attacks.
DPHSS appoints interim medical director; second hearing on suspension of AA Law
The Guam Department of Health and Social Services announced the appointment of Dr. Chris Dombrowski as interim medical director.
Dombrowski’s career in Guam since 1993 has been in family medicine according to DPHSS. It has included appointments with the PMC Isla Health System and Harmon Doctor’s Clinic. He graduated from the Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in 1984.
In other DPHSS news, a second hearing will be held Nov. 4 on DPHSS draft rules and regulations on “enforcement of public health guidance and directives during the COVID-19 public health emergency… . “Fines and penalties are included in the draft, following the signing of an executive order by Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero suspending Administration Adjudication Law, which allows for unilateral enforcement. The health emergency was also extended to Nov. 29.
Matson shares third quarter revenues
Matson Inc. which does business as Matson Navigation Co., reported Nov. 2 net income of $70.9 million or $1.63 per diluted share for the quarter ended Sept. 30. Consolidated revenue for the third quarter was $645 million, compared with $572 for the third quarter 2019.
Matthew Cox, Matson’s chairman and CEO said the shipper’s China services were the primary driver of the increase.
“In Alaska and Guam, we saw modestly higher year-over-year volume growth. Logistics operating income increased year-over-year as the continued reopening of the U.S. economy led to improved performance in all of the business lines. We also continued to achieve cost benefits from our previously announced cost management initiatives,” he said. mbj