Saipan COVID cases continue

With 84 new COVID cases on Dec. 19 in the Northern Mariana Islands, Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres said, “We want to make sure that everyone understands that we have done everything we can to sustain and protect the community. Don’t take that for granted. … There is nothing we can do to 100% safeguard the community.”

Of those 84 cases, 67 were identified through contact tracing while 17 were identified through community testing.

With the new cases added in, there have been 2,215 cases of COVID-19 since Oct. 28, of which 125 were identified through contact tracing, 978 through community testing and 32 through travel testing. 

In other NMI news, the Northern Mariana Islands Emergency Operations and the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services in conjunction with the HydroGeologic Munitions Team advised Dec. 21 that the HydroGeologic Munitions Team will be conducting WW II Live Ordnance Detonation Dec. 22 at Saipan’s Marpi Blow Pit. Marpi Road will be closed from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 pm, which means the Marpi Landfill, Banzai Cliff, Suicide Cliff, and Grotto will be closed also.


USCIS played catchup in 2021

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released preliminary fiscal 2021 agency statistics Dec. 21.

USCIS said it “faced the unprecedented challenge” of processing more than 237,000 employment-based Green Card applications — not only the agency’s usual 115,000, but an additional 122,000 immigrant visa numbers that the Department of State was unable to process in fiscal 2020 due to COVID-19. By the end of fiscal 2021, USCIS approved more than 172,000 employment-based adjustment of status applications, an increase of 50% above the typical baseline.

Across the agency, the volume of pending cases increased as well as the associated processing times. USCIS has made significant strides in addressing processing delays caused by COVID-19 and other factors while responding to new executive orders, it said.

USCIS made significant strides in addressing processing delays in the following ways: reusing biometrics for 2.5 million applicants since March 2020; reducing the number of pending biometrics appointments from 1.4 million in January 2021 to 155,000 as of the end of September; and fully eliminating the “front-log” of cases awaiting intake processing (which was more than 1 million receipts in January 2021 and was eliminated in July) by expanding staffing and overtime at its Lockbox facilities.

“These preliminary statistics highlight important immigration trends and illustrate the work accomplished by USCIS in FY 2021. The agency will publish final, verified FY 2021 statistics in January 2022,” USCIS said


UOG confers more than 240 degrees

The University of Guam conferred degrees Dec. 19 to 241 graduates at its Fanuchånan Commencement Ceremony in three separate ceremonies.

The first ceremony awarded 30 degrees under the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, 27 degrees under the College of Natural and Applied Sciences, and 12 degrees under the School of Engineering – the first engineering degrees to be awarded at UOG. The second ceremony awarded 65 degrees under the School of Education and 12 degrees under the School of Health. And the third ceremony awarded 95 degrees under the School of Business and Public Administration.  

Of the 176 bachelor’s degrees conferred, the highest numbers were in business administration with 43 degrees and criminal justice with 17 degrees. 

Of the 65 master’s degrees conferred, more than half were under the School of Education, primarily Master of Education degrees specializing in reading, Master of Arts in Counseling degrees, and Master of Arts in Teaching, while one-quarter were Master of Public Administration graduates. 


And also:

Airline to hold photo contest with tickets as prizes

Korean Air is holding a photo contest to recognize travel destinations and the personal experiences of travelers. Submissions are due Dec. 24. For further details see  


For your diary:

Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero and First Gentleman Jeffrey A. Cook are inviting the island to their Drive-Thru Holiday Wishes event at Government House in Agaña Heights on Dec. 23 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Children will receive a holiday treat while supplies last. The Guam Territorial Band will also be featured on-site performing holiday music.

  • Individuals must remain in their vehicles
  • Turn off any mechanical ventilation of the vehicle (i.e. fan and air conditioning) before driving up to receive treats
  • Face masks must be worn by all individuals in the vehicle when receiving treats