Contrary to a conflicting announcement, both the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) and the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force have received multiple reports over the last several weeks from inter-island travelers that Star Marianas Air required their passengers to present a health clearance form before boarding their planes.
CHCC and the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force provide public health guidance to the Governor for directives or executive orders to protect the health and safety of all residents in the Marianas. The only directive regarding a health clearance form is specifically for quarantined travelers entering the CNMI and whose ultimate destination is Tinian or Rota. Upon completion of their quarantine, they will receive a health clearance form before departing for their home islands of Tinian or Rota.
There has been no public directive that requires travelers that are already within the CNMI to present a health clearance form prior to inter-island travel.
CHCC has seen and received numerous residents who specifically ask for a health clearance form, as instructed by Star Marianas Air, in order to fly to Tinian or Rota from Saipan.
Furthermore, there has been no agreement, as of today, by CHCC or the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force to conduct health screening at the airports on Saipan, Tinian, or Rota for passengers. This would require additional CHCC and Task Force staff to the airports. This takes away from the overall effort of providing real patient care for COVID-19 at our hospital, health centers, medical care sites, and alternate care sites.
In order to prevent this from happening and to properly address Star Marianas Air’s concerns, the Task Force and CHCC announced that inter-island travelers can get a health evaluation at the Medical Care and Treatment Site (MCATS) tent on the upper parking lot level of CHCC in order to board a Star Marianas Air flight. This can be accommodated while flights are limited, however, CHCC will have to re-evaluate if this can continue with increases in flights and without transferring the cost to the passengers.
The Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and CHCC believe in community partnership to keep the CNMI’s curve flat, and this includes working with private sector partners in order to address any concerns. We value Star Marianas Air’s partnership, and we look forward to continuing working with them. This COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation, and policy changes will be made to adapt to the needs of our islands. The ultimate goal is to protect all residents of the Marianas, and we will continue to work hard with all community partners to overcome this pandemic.
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