195 repats slated for March 10 flight now quarantining in Hawaii
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The COVID-19 Task Force convened on Monday, Mar. 1, 2021 at the Department of Homeland Security (EOC) in Tafuna to finalize preparations for the next scheduled repatriation flight on March 10, which as of this past Monday had 195 returning residents in quarantine in Hawaii.
According to a media release, Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga, Taskforce Chairman Lieutenant Governor Talauega Eleasalo V. Ale and various cabinet and private sector members were in attendance with the ASG Hawaii Office and quarantine staff teleconferencing in through Zoom.
Governor Lemanu urged members to be vigilant in the performance of their duties so that American Samoa can continue to be free from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. He thanked the Task Force for all their hard work and advised not to let the success of the first repatriation flight make them lax in their duties.
He urged them to strive to improve on their processes, double check their work and collaborate with each other to mitigate issues. The Governor expressed appreciation to Lt. Governor Talauega, who is the Governor’s Authorized Representative (GAR), Secretary of Samoan Affairs Mauga Tasi Asuega, and all the members of the Task Force for their work. He said their mission is not an easy one and he thanked them for their service.
It has been reported that over 120 registrants opted out of the Mar. 10th flight for various reasons causing delays in coordination efforts for pre-quarantine in Hawaii. Key Task Force agencies continue to work as proactively as possible in vetting priority lists to allow sufficient lead time for travelers to prepare for the pre-quarantine phase.
Every resident who wishes to return home must register on the DOH website [https://americansamoapublichealth.com/] to undergo medical clearances. In addition, the Department of Legal Affairs maintains the website [http://www.legalaffairs.as.gov/repatriation-document-upload] where travelers are required to upload valid identification, travel documents, and immigration documentation for residency verification.
Director of Health Motusā Tuileama Nua provided updates on COVID-19 tests and swabs on hand (6,283 Tests & 18,436 Total Swabs). Total samples collected stand at 3,587. Vaccination efforts at the Lee Auditorium commenced on Monday, Mar. 1st and will be on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM with a break next week due to the Island Wide Science Fair.
DOH continues to assess policies based on the most recent scientific literature with respect to travelers that may have previously tested positive for review of the COVID-19 Task Force. Updates to medical requirements and policies will be updated accordingly onto their website.
MARCH 10TH REPATRIATION FLIGHT
A total of 195 passengers are currently checked in with the Hawaii Quarantine Site (Waikiki Ohana East Hotel by Outrigger). The first COVID-19 tests were administered to the travelers in quarantine on Monday Mar. 1 (Day 4). Travelers are asked to address their concerns with quarantine staff so that they can be made aware and resolve them immediately. The foremost goal of the COVID-19 Task Force and the many agencies and personnel involved in the repatriation operation is to keep our travelers safe and as comfortable as possible on their long journeys home.
Medicaid Director Sandra King-Young provided an update on the $500 cost-share payments for both the Feb. 1st and upcoming March 10th repat flights.
To date, only 3 passengers have paid their cost share from the February 1st flight with 10 travelers having paid for the upcoming March flight. Failure of past and upcoming travelers to pay the cost-share of the repatriation flights may negatively impact the ability of ASG to sustain future repatriation flight and quarantine operations.
Mar. 10th travelers unable to make arrangements with family to make cost-share payments immediately have been asked to sign a promissory note indicating that they will make payments upon release from quarantine in American Samoa.
The Medicaid Director encourages Feb. 1st and Mar. 10th passengers to pay in person or to make arrangements with family members as soon as possible with the Medicaid Office by visiting their office in Tafuna, contacting by phone at 684-699-4777, 699-4778, 699-4779, and/or by email at email@example.com
The outbound Medicaid flight is fully booked and confirmed to depart on March 10th..
VISA FLIGHT TO APIA
Twenty-five medical referrals and escorts that departed for Samoa on Monday for visa interviews returned to American Samoa on Thursday, Feb. 25th, where they were subject to quarantine at Tradewinds Hotel.
Initially scheduled to return on Wednesday, Feb. 24 the return flight was delayed as a result of inclement weather. Travelers were ultimately released on Friday, Feb. 26th upon the recommendation from the Department of Health medical team taking into consideration the low-risk of travel from the Independent state of Samoa and the absence of any community transmission. Medical referrals with newly obtained visas are scheduled to depart on the outbound Medicaid charter.
REPATRIATION FLIGHT FROM SAMOA.
The Task Force is scheduled to receive its first repatriation flight for American Samoa residents stranded in Independent Samoa. A total of 10 residents are set to return on Tuesday, Mar. 22nd, where they will be quarantined at the Tafuna Health Clinic ACF II.