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Governor extends COVID-19 emergency declaration to May 1

ASG’s COVID-19 Task Force

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga plans to extend for another 30-days his coronavirus emergency declaration, which is based on the Third Amended Declaration, dated Apr. 1st and lapsing May 1st.

Samoa News notes that the original declaration was issued Mar. 17th and was effective for 30-days — it lapses Apr. 17th. Two more amended documents were later issued by the governor, with the last one, the Third Amended Declaration.

Based on the governor’s Apr. 6th memo to the ASG’s COVID-19 Task Force, Samoa News reported last Thursday that Lolo has sought recommendations for “What’s the next step?” addressing 8 issues.  He asked the task force and the coronavirus working group to provide recommendations on “what our next steps would be when the current declaration lapses on Apr. 17th.”

The American Samoa Legal Aid paralegal Jesse Berenfeld, informed Samoa News on behalf of the agency’s director, Fainu’ulelei Ala’ilima-Utu, that the Apr. 17th date — as reported in the story — is not correct and it should be May 1st — which is 30-days from the date of the Third Amended Declaration.

When asked last Thursday for comments, ASG’s COVID-19 Task Force Iulogologo Joseph Pereira told Samoa News that he will have to discuss this matter with the acting Attorney General “to clarify it”.

When asked again yesterday morning, Iulogologo responded that the “April 17, 2020 date is based on the Original Declaration. The 3rd Amended Declaration was signed on April 1, 2020.”

“Thus, the declaration will lapse on May 1, 2020,” he pointed out.

At Sunday’s task force meeting, the governor announced his plan to extend for another 30-days the coronavirus declaration, saying that saving the lives “of our people” is the utmost important priority.

To cabinet members, Lolo said their efforts in protecting American Samoa from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic would go down in history.