First COVID positives in Rota

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. in the Northern Mariana Islands announced a further 18 positives on Jan. 10, including two positive cases in Rota – the first on that island.

Of the 18 cases: 

  • 16 were identified on Jan. 9 (two on Rota); and two on Jan. 8
  • 8 were identified via contact tracing, 4 via community testing, 6 via travel testing

The vaccination statuses of the 18 cases identified are pending verification, according to the release.

“The CHCC Communicable Disease Investigation/Inspection team has already initiated contact tracing for the most immediate contacts of the newly confirmed cases, and this effort will continue until all probable cases are identified and tested,” according to the release.

At least one of the cases identified so far was a traveler returning to Rota, according to Journal sources.

On Jan. 11, the CHCC advised 33 additional individuals were confirmed positive for COVID-19.

Of the 33 cases, 32 were identified on Jan. 10, one on Jan. 9, with 15 identified via contact tracing, 15 via community testing, 3 and three via travel testing.  

Since Oct. 28 and as of Jan. 11, there have been 3,407 cases in the NMI, of which 1,659 were identified via contact tracing, 1,623 via community testing and 125 via travel testing.


HANMI releases occupancy numbers and rates

The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands reported a 35% average occupancy rate among its 12 member hotels for December 2021. The figure is seven times higher compared to December 2020, with 15,984 room nights sold this December compared to 2,127 rooms last December.

The occupancy rates do not include venue rentals at Kanoa Resort Saipan for government COVID-19 quarantine accommodations.

A total of 15,984 of 45,662 available room nights sold during the month.  Average room rates were $138.42 compared to $144.85 in December 2020, according to a Jan. 11 release from HANMI.


Guam small businesses among NAVFAC Marianas awardees of Design Build MACC          

Agbayani Construction Corp. (identified as of Daly City, Calif.); Allied Pacific Builders Inc. of Dededo, BME and Sons Inc. of Mangilao; Fargo Pacific Inc. of Tamuning, LRG Construction JV LLC of Anchorage, Ala., Modern International Inc. of Barrigada, Sea Pac Engineering Inc. of Los Angeles, Calif., Serrano Construction and Development Corp. of Dededo, Techni-Con Inc. of Mangilao, and Weldin Construction LLC of Wasilla, Ala. were awarded a “combined $400,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, multiple award, design-build construction contract for construction projects located primarily within the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Marianas area of operations.”

Work to be performed provides for new construction, renovation/modernization, and routine repair/maintenance, by method of design build, at various federal or military facilities and installations on Guam, according to a Jan. 11 release CHamoru Standard Time from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Each contractor will be awarded $25,000 (minimum contract guarantee per awardee) at contract award. The maximum dollar value including the base period and three option years for all 10 contracts combined is $400 million. Work will be performed in Guam and is expected to be completed by January 2030.

These 10 contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. This contract was competitively procured via the website with 22 proposals received according to DoD. NAVFAC Marianas made the award.

All the recipients were identified as small businesses.

According to Journal files, NAVFAC Marianas exceeded its fiscal 2021 small business award goal of 67% and awarded a total of $283.8 million or 73.89% of $283.8 million to small businesses or 73.89% of the small business eligible awards.


Department of Defense announces multiple awards for test kits

The U.S. Department of Defense “in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded contracts to Atlantic Trading LLC (Austin, Texas) and Medea Inc. (Pleasanton, California), purchasing a combined total of 27 million over-the-counter COVID-19 test kits,” according to a Jan. 11 release CHamoru Standard Time. “This effort supports the president’s plan to deliver 500 million free at-home COVID-19 tests to the nation in response to the Omicron variant,” the release said.


Impeachment vote on governor to go to the NMI House

The 22nd Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives announced it would meet in session on Wednesday, January 12 at 10 a.m. in the House Chamber.

The House will vote on House Resolution 22-14: “Impeaching Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres, Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, pursuant to Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth for commission of felonies, corruption, and neglect of duty, in violation of Article III, Section 19 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth.”

The resolution was introduced by Rep. Celina R. Babauta of Saipan, Precinct 1 (for herself, (Representatives Blas Jonathan “BJ” T. Attao, Joel C. Camacho, Vicente C. Camacho, Richard T. Lizama, Corina L. Magofna, Donald M. Manglona, Edwin K. Propst, Christina M.E. Sablan, John Paul P. Sablan, Leila H.F.C Staffler, Denita Kaipat Yangetmai, and Ralph N. Yumul) on Dec. 20, according to a Jan 7 release from the House.

If the resolution passes the House – which will require a two-thirds majority – Torres would face an impeachment trial in the NMI Senate.


FSM flights and new pre-quarantine procedures announced

Repatriation flights to the Federates States of Micronesia are scheduled as follows: to Pohnpei on Jan. 24; to Chuuk on Jan. 26, to Kosrae on Jan. 31 and to Yap on Feb. 6.

The FSM announced three changes to repatriation procedures.  Any person eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster dose is required to obtain it prior to repatriation. Children aged five and up are mandated to be fully vaccinated prior to repatriation.

The second and third relate to pre-quarantine in Guam, which has been amended from (10 days to seven days. A single test for COVID-19 will occur on either the fifth or sixth day of pre-quarantine, about 48 hours prior to travel. Persons will also need to demonstrate proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to entry into the pre-quarantine site. Therefore, persons will undergo two separate COVID tests: one before, and one during pre-quarantine.

“It is the intention of the FSM National Government that a practical effect of these amendments is that repatriation activities will be able to continue more frequently, while also helping to keep the Nation safe from COVID-19,” a Jan. 10 release said. mbj