The Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) have officially confirmed that the CNMI has no existing threat of COVID-19 community spread at this time.
11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were identified via PCR testing from March 12, 2021 through March 17, 2021. The cases ranged in age as old as 64 with an average age of 27. Seven of the 11 cases were male. Seven of the 11 cases were adults and were eligible for vaccination.
Of these seven adult cases, one completed the vaccination series. This case was asymptomatic and was fully vaccinated two months prior to March 12, 2021.
For the 10 symptomatic cases, the presence of symptoms ranged from one (1) to 12 days with an average of five (5) days before laboratory confirmation of COVID-19. All isolated lab samples have been sent to CDC for review and sequencing.
No cases required hospitalization and no deaths were recorded in this cluster.
Results of Contact Tracing
Since the identification of the first case of the cluster on March 12, 2021, contact investigation yielded 149 unique persons, of whom, 10 were confirmed as COVID-19 cases.
Of the remaining 139 contacts, based on interviews, 118 were identified to have had sufficient levels and duration of exposure requiring testing for COVID-19. Of these 118, no additional cases were identified. However, the point source of exposure has yet to be validated. As of March 30, 2021, additional interviews of cases have not yielded any evidentiary links to plausible COVID-19 exposure sources. None of the 11 cases sought any kind of medical care at CHCC in the previous 90 days, but medical care to other facilities is being explored. The weekly community-based testing also examined approximately 1,000 people and has not yielded any positive COVID-19 cases.
While CHCC has not been able to pinpoint the exact source, the Task Force and CHCC feels, after an exhaustive investigation, that this cluster has been contained and there is not a threat to the community through undiagnosed COVID-19 community spread.
3 Ws: “Wear a Mask, Wash Your Hands, Watch Your Distance”
The numerous connections from a small group of individuals with a large family network demonstrates the value of prevention by adhering to the 3 Ws: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.
While CNMI culture thrives on large gatherings, the 3 Ws were able to keep the spread contained. Further prevention can be achieved by ensuring all CNMI residents eligible for COVID-19 vaccination complete their series to achieve the necessary level of herd immunity.