CNMI receives federal aid for COVID-19 response

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The CNMI Governor, CNMI Lt. Governor Arnold I. Palacios, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) Chief Executive Officer Esther L. Muña, members of the CNMI Legislature, and the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force were at the Saipan International Airport on Saturday to receive the supplies from the US Air Force C17 Globemaster Aircraft. (Photos from the CNMI Office of the Governor)

At the request of CNMI Governor Ralph DLG. Torres, FEMA, and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the US Department of Defense (DoD) shipped over critical medical supplies and equipment, as well as a 50-bed Federal Medical Station from the Strategic National Stockpile to Saipan on Saturday.

The CNMI Governor, Lt. Governor Arnold I. Palacios, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) Chief Executive Officer Esther L. Muña, members of the CNMI Legislature, and the CNMI Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force were at the Saipan International Airport on Saturday to receive the supplies from the US Air Force C17 Globemaster Aircraft.

Last month, Torres notified FEMA and DoD of several unmet needs that are negatively impacting the CNMI’s overall responsiveness in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.  Subsequently, he also initiated the Defense Support of Civil Authorities process through his request to US Indo-Pacific Commander (USINDOPACOM) Admiral Phillip Davidson for the immediate deployment of key essential resources to the CNMI.

The key resources the Governor requested include, but are not limited to:

  • field medical hospital with beds;
  • medical team(s);
  • medical equipment and capabilities;
  • lab testing capabilities with BioFire test kits, and;
  • airlifts to bring in viral transport media and other medical supplies and equipment, inclusive of all relevant DoD capability to supplement and support the facilitation of local efforts against COVID-19.

Photos from the CNMI Office of the Governor:

FEMA provides COVID-19 assistance to CNMI  

In response to the Governor’s request, Davidson immediately activated the Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO) West to actively participate in the Governor’s Unified Command Group, comprised of his COVID-19 Task Force, the Commonwealth Health Care Corporation, Homeland Security & Emergency Management Services, in partnership with FEMA.

The Admiral also informed Torres that Major General Suzie Vares-Lum of USINDOPACOM will be coordinating with FEMA Region IX Administrator Bob Fenton to support the CNMI. Rear Admiral John Menoni, Commander of Joint Region Marianas, will provide additional support on the local level.

The shipment is part of President Donald J. Trump’s Whole-of-America response initiatives, mobilizing full federal support through the White House Coronavirus Task Force to assist states and territories across the nation.  This initiative provides for medical resources that are first sent to priority countries identified by FEMA and HHS.

“The fact that this is a global pandemic all across the United States and territories, including us here, and everyone is requesting for the same medical resources makes it a national challenge. But with the strong partnership we have with our federal partners, we are able to get this shipment here. Every little help goes a long way and I would like to thank President Trump, FEMA, HHS, DoD, and all the partners who are supporting the CNMI in this fight,” said Torres.

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