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The USS Theodore Roosevelt will pull into Guam on Thursday, Feb. 25, according to Journal sources.

How long the carrier will stay and if this will be a Safe Harbor visit is not yet confirmed. According to Joint Region Marianas, “It is U.S. Pacific Fleet’s policy to not discuss future ship operations.”

The U.S. Pacific Fleet announced Feb. 15 that three sailors among the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for COVID-19 Feb. 14. According to a release, the three sailors were asymptomatic, and they “as well as all identified close contacts are currently isolated aboard the ship in accordance with Navy and CDC guidance.”

On Feb. 21 Joint Region Marianas announced that the three had been flown to Guam for treatment on Naval Base Guam. “The sailors will reside in designated lodging onboard U.S. Naval Base Guam for the duration of their isolation period in accordance with Navy and CDC COVID-19 guidelines and will have no contact with the local population. The sailors will receive daily medical checks from Navy medical professionals to ensure their continued wellbeing.
“The ship is following an aggressive mitigation strategy in accordance with Navy and CDC guidelines to include mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, and proper hygiene and sanitation practices. USS Theodore Roosevelt is currently underway and remains fully operational,” the release said.

Military ships that arrive in Guam typically replenish supplies and meet other needs while in port.


More COVID cases arrive in Saipan

Eight positive COVID-19 cases were identified on arrival in Saipan on the United Airlines flight on Feb. 20. According to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.’s dashboard, the Northern Mariana Islands has recorded 143 COVID positive cases, of which 118 were identified as traveling, 10 through community screening and 16 through contact tracing. Of the 143, 74 were arriving from the U.S. mainland, 32 from a U.S. territory and 12 from a foreign country. See www.vaccinatecnmi.com for updated positive case counts and vaccination numbers.

NMI quarantine regulations have not changed. Travelers are initially quarantined on arrival. See the latest update as of Feb. at https://governor.gov.mp/covid-19/travel.  


Airline association to support passenger tracing program

Airlines for America, the industry trade organization representing several U.S. airlines, announced Feb. 21 in Washington, D.C. that its member passenger carriers have pledged support for the implementation of a “voluntary international contact tracing program” to collect data from passengers travelling into the U.S. for transmittal to the Centers for Disease Control. The measure is designed as “an additional layer of protection for the traveling public,” the organization said.

The member airlines are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. Details would be legal name, two phone numbers, email address and address where the passenger will stay or has a permanent residence in the U.S. 


Youth Congress passes anti-polystyrene measure

Bills passed by the 36th Guam Legislature on Feb. 22 included 11-36, which Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero said in an immediate release she will not sign into law, but veto. The bill would prevent the governor from declaring a public health emergency for longer than 90 days without approval of the legislature, which can also vote to cancel it. The bill passed narrowly by 8 to 7 votes.

Bill 1-36 – the Business Assistance Act – would exempt businesses from payment of a business license for two years.  Leon Guerrero said she would hold judgment on all bills until they reached her desk in their final version, at a news conference on Feb. 19, though she said at the time she would not sign Bill 11.

In other legislature-related news, the Guam Youth Congress on Feb. 22 unanimously approved Bill 7-33, which would ban “the import, sale and distribution of polystyrene containers to take effect January 1, 2023.” The Guam Youth Congress measure was adapted from Bill 370-34, which was introduced by former Republican Senator Fernando Esteves, according to a release. “Bill 7-33 (COR) is awaiting transmission to Guam Legislature where it will hopefully be introduced,” the release said.


United confirms which 777s fly Guam-Honolulu route

United Airlines is removing from its schedule all 777s with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, following an engine failure on a flight that left Denver for Honolulu on Feb. 20. The Guam-Honolulu route is not directly affected, though other routes will be, according to the airline.

United’s corporate communications in Tokyo told the Journal on Feb. 23,All of our aircraft are rotating many routes, but as for Guam-Honolulu, we have been using B777-300ER aircraft with GE engines prior to this incident.” 

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a statement Feb. 21 concerning Boeing 777s with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, following an engine failure on a United Airlines flight leaving from Denver for Honolulu.

Stephen Dickson, the FAA administrator said, “After consulting with my team of aviation safety experts about Saturday’s engine failure aboard a Boeing 777 airplane in Denver, I have directed them to issue an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines. This will likely mean that some airplanes will be removed from service. We reviewed all available safety data following Saturday’s incident. Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine, used solely on Boeing 777 airplanes. The FAA is working closely with other civil aviation authorities to make this information available to affected operators in their jurisdictions. The FAA’s aviation safety experts are meeting into the evening with Pratt & Whitney and Boeing to finalize the details of the Airworthiness Directive and any accompanying service bulletins to ensure that the appropriate airplanes are included in the order. Exact details of the inspection will be specified in the emergency order.” 

In a response after the FAA statement, United had said, “Starting immediately and out of an abundance of caution, we are voluntarily and temporarily removing 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines from our schedule. Since yesterday, we’ve been in touch with regulators at the NTSB and FAA and will continue to work closely with them to determine any additional steps that are needed to ensure these aircraft meet our rigorous safety standards and can return to service. As we swap out aircraft, we expect only a small number of customers to be inconvenienced.

“Safety remains our highest priority – for our employees and our customers. That’s why our pilots and flight attendants take part in extensive training to prepare and manage incidents like United flight 328. And we remain proud of their professionalism and steadfast dedication to safety in our day-to-day operations and when emergencies like this occur.”

Other airlines also fly the Boeing 777 with PW4000 engines.


FSM to disperse COVID funds to low-income households

The Department of Finance & Administration in the Federated States of Micronesia is piloting application forms and questionnaires for support to low-income households in Pohnpei, Yap, Chuuk, and Kosrae from Feb. 18 to Feb 26, and will further expand in those states.

The Department expects that the first checks for these programs will be cut sometime in April, according to a Feb. 18 release. “Among the social protection programs [are] a cash transfer grant to approximately 4,500 low income households outside of the formal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, a food security program for community groups and low-income households to enhance subsistence-living food production, community-based grants to strengthen awareness and prevention of COVID-19, and targeted assistance to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, persons with disabilities, and survivors of gender-based violence, which would come in the form of medical bill waivers, utility subsidy, and gender-based violence prevention kits,” the release said.

In other FSM news, as of Feb. 22 all four states are offering Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for all adults who are 18 years old and up. “Citizens interested in receiving their vaccine need only visit their State’s public health office,” according to a Feb. 22 release from the Office of the President. “The FSM National Government, operating in part on guidance from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is seeking a minimum vaccination rate of 70% of the eligible population prior to the repatriation of any FSM citizens from COVID-19 affected jurisdictions,” the release said. mbj