surge anticipated to continue through holidays
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Saipan-- The CNMI government today reported the commonwealth's sixth Covid-related death and 260 new positive cases, hitting a record high and bringing the islands' total count to 1,774 cases since March 28, 2020.
According to a press release from the government, the patient was an unvaccinated CNMI resident, who passed this month. The patient tested positive for Covid-19 in November and was placed in isolation after being identified at the Commonwealth Health Center Corp. The patient was admitted to the Alternative Care Site at Kanoa Resort.
Advising residents to continue following safety measures and complete their vaccine shots, health officials said the surge is expected to continue through the holidays.
The 260 individuals who have been identified Covid-19 positive from tests performed on Dec. 8-9 have been isolated and are actively monitored, according to a press release from the CNMI government.
As of Dec. 9, 2021, there have been 567 recoveries made, 914 active cases, and 2 deaths of the cases identified since Oct. 28.
As of Dec. 10, there are 14 Covid-related hospitalizations (10 unvaccinated, 2 vaccinated, 2 partially vaccinated; 0 on a ventilator); and one was discharged from the alternative care site.
Of the 260 cases, 174 were identified on Dec. 8, and 86 were identified on Dec. 9; 105 were identified via contact tracing, 149 were identified via community testing, and 6 were identified via travel testing.
The vaccination statuses of the 260 cases identified are pending verification.
A total of 891 Covid-19 vaccine shots were administered on Dec. 10, resulting in 90 percent of the CNMI's eligible population being fully vaccinated, which affords the community more protection against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
Since Oct. 28, 2021, there have been 1,483 new cases, of which 815 were identified via contact tracing, 649 were identified via community testing, and 19 were identified via travel testing.
The CNMI government and schools are on a two-week shutdown due to the coronavirus surge.
Dr. Richard Brostrom, a representative from the Department of Health and Human Services, said it is difficult to set a threshold that determines when the surge ends.
"We can't use numbers because we have small variables to operate," Brostrom said during a Covid update briefing Thursday. "At this point, there is no doubt that we have a surge, and unfortunately, it could very well carry through the holidays."
The Marianas Visitors Bureau last week announced the cancellation of its signature holiday events, specifically the Marianas Christmas Village and Christmas Tree display at Garapan Fishing Base is canceled.
Esther Muna, CEO of the Commonwealth Health Center Corp., said the public health system's priority is to prevent a surge in hospitalizations. "We are focusing on making sure everybody is getting the best outcome, which is recovery," she said.
Muna urged employers to ensure safety at their workplaces by requiring their staff to get fully vaccinated.
Health officials maintained that unvaccinated individuals are at risk of serious illness from Covid-19, and unvaccinated individuals spread the virus at a higher rate than vaccinated individuals, thereby increasing the spread and risk of serious illness toward other unvaccinated individuals.