CNMI approved for $2.5 million to strengthen CHCC medical capacity in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Governor Ralph DLG. Torres, Lt. Governor Arnold I. Palacios, and Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) Chief Executive Officer Esther L. Muña, through the Office of Grants Management (OGM), announce that the US Department of Interior (DOI) Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) has approved the drawdown of $2,518,897 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to expand and strengthen medical capacity at CHCC and quarantine sites as part of the CNMI’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to thank the Trump Administration, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech for approving our request and assisting the CNMI as we continue to strengthen our medical needs at CHCC and our quarantine sites through our COVID-19 task force. This funding request is part of our overall plan to proactively protect our islands from potential spikes in COVID-19 cases. We thank our CHCC CEO Esther Muña, our Task Force Chairman Warren Villagomez, OGM Administrator Epiphanio Cabrera Jr., Senator Sixto K. Igisomar, and Rep. Joe I. Itibus for their hard work on our requests to keep the CNMI one of the safest places in the Pacific and in the United States,” said Governor Torres.

“We are certainly pleased to receive this funding to further address our needs for medical equipment as we combat COVID-19. We continue to have one of the flattest curves in the world, and this is due in large part to our community working together to keep each other safe and our proactive leadership to protect our borders. The work has not stop since January, and we will continue to protect everyone in the Marianas from this pandemic,” said Lt. Governor Palacios.

“We are grateful for the support from Assistant Secretary Domenech for these valuable resources to allow us to renovate our only hospital and emergency room. As a result of these upgrades, the CHCC will continue to provide the best level of clinical services for our residents,” said CEO Muña.

The CNMI was approved to drawdown $2,518,897 for the following projects:

  • $714,837 will be used to modify and improve emergency rooms for infectious disease control at CHCC. Renovations will improve patient intake, flow, and isolation, while protecting the safety and well-being of both patients and healthcare workers. Funds will also be used to acquire appropriate medical equipment necessary to provide infectious disease care. 
  • $487,182 will fund acquisition of an oxygen generation system and mobile ultraviolet cleaning or decontamination device for use at the CHCC.
  • $396,830 will be used to provide an upgrade for the CHCC’s reverse osmosis and sterilization systems.
  • $371,800 will be used to prepare the former Marianas Resort property to serve as a non-congregate shelter or quarantine site for inbound passengers. Over 100 rooms in varying sizes will be made available for COVID-19-related activities and for patients should cases reach upsurge limits or if the virus should spread exponentially within the community.
  • $320,718 will be used to make parking lot infrastructure upgrades and adjustments necessary related to the official medical care and treatment site as approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • $227,530 will be used to purchase a mobile x-ray system and a computerized tomography or CT scan system and supplies for the CHCC.

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CNMI Office of the Governor

Office of the Governor Response to Dismissal of Lawsuit Filed Against the House Judiciary & Government Operations Committee

Yesterday, the Superior Court held that the Office of the Governor could not proceed with its case against the House Judiciary and Government Operations Committee. Although the Administration respects the decision of the Judge, we believe the decision is erroneous by ignoring and misinterpreting law and precedent. For example, in its rush to follow federal precedent, it skipped right over the plain text of the Commonwealth Constitution. Then it overlooked some of the most important protections found even in the federal cases — such as the rule that the legislature may subpoena the executive only when the information it needs is not reasonably available anywhere else. The decision will be appealed. It will be for the Supreme Court to ultimately decide the merits of this civil case.

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