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Bringing our people home — the bright spot in another COVID year

American Samoa residents arriving in buses at the Honolulu airport

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa started the year with a new administration taking over the reigns of government as the COVID-19 pandemic deepened across the world and the government initiated plans to repatriate residents, while the territory remained closed down to the outside world. 

And that about sums up 2021 — while remaining virtually virus free, we watched the world cope with the deadly virus that as of yesterday had killed over 5 million people, with the death toll in the U.S. nearing a million. 

As the rest of the world struggled with life and death issues so did American Samoa — the meth epidemic has not gone away just because the borders remain closed. Just read the paper — every week, case after case comes to the courts. And while you have to wonder why after all the drug busts during traffic stops people are still stupid enough to drive around with drugs in their vehicles or in a pocket just waiting to be ‘patted down’ — that’s what addiction is about — not really caring about anything but access to your drug of choice. And we learned that any kind of drug rehab facility is still 3-4 years away, despite all the COVID funds that have poured into the territory.

And speaking of those COVID funds — ordinary citizens got their taste of the money with ‘direct payments’ more popularly known as stimulus checks and after that came Advance Child Tax Credits.

Leaders in government and business were leery that the payments would poke a big hole in the workforce and in some instances they were right. StarKist had to go back to Samoa to recruit more workers for the territory's largest private industry. Meanwhile ordinary people (which is most of us) were more able to feed our children and pay the ASPA bills.

As the year progressed more people were vaccinated and the beginning of repatriation flights in February brought hope to our stranded residents and people getting desperate for life to return to normal.  That return has not been as rapid as we all had hoped. We are still pretty far from the 90% vaccine rate Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga has called for, as the divide between the vaccinated and unvaccinated continues to grow sharper. The New York Times reported in Oct. that “escaping the virus’s grip will be a long way off, because they [those firmly opposed to the vaccines] make up as much as 20 percent of the adult population.”

Nevertheless, American Samoa remains pretty insulated to the fears people have on the mainland and as one of our last headlines of 2021 pointed out, “Am Samoa, the last — and the safest place to ring in the New Year”.

Wishing all of you peace and prosperity as we traverse 2022.  And please, please help us return to that “normal life” — show your love — get vaccinated.  


American Samoa’s newly elected leaders sworn into office

Lemanu’s first declaration extends operating hours for biz and transport

Team Fealofani takes 2021 JPS All Star Classic 16-14

Chaos, violence, mockery as pro-Trump mob occupies Congress

Repat flights coming closer to realization

State of the Territory address focuses on ASG’s COVID response

Territory readies implementation plan for stimulus checks

COVID shots now available for anyone 65 and older

Gov puts halt to pay raises and conversions

Lemanu issues directive moving payroll division back to Treasury

Stimulus payments set at $600 — checks to go out soon

First repat flight moved to Feb 1 after positive tests at Hawaii quarantine

Faipule calls for vaccinating passengers on repat flight before arrival


Latest emergency declaration details new quarantine regulations

First repat flight brings hope to stranded residents

FY 2021 budget approved in final reading

Senators question status of new Fono building

Driver of gas truck that crashed into aiga bus charged with vehicular homicide

Cost of first repat flight is over $1million — so far

Faipule call for halt to roll-backs on salaries, conversions and reclassifications

Stimulus checks greeted with enthusiasm

Crowds packs Health Center for COVID-19 vaccinations

Sen. Soliai says important issues call for a Constitutional Convention

Interior awards $1.6 million+ to support bringing repats back home

ASG 2021 budget finally signed into law

ASG employees stranded off island will continue to be paid

Faipule pleas for some action on American Samoa’s drug problem

Gov’s latest declaration exempts churches from overnight closure

Harbor Master announces new requirements for all incoming vessels

House version of Senate tobacco tax bill ends the 2% wage tax


ASG launches COVID-19 vaccination push

Attorneys in ANZ class action lawsuit file for settlement

Thursday’s tsunami scare sends residents to higher ground

HR director justifies Lemanu admin’s roll back policy

Bill to increase contribution rate to ASG retirement fund on way to gov

American Samoa looking at another round of “direct payments”

House reps urge Police Commissioner to shut down Le Aute and Filifili

Lawmakers introduce their usual bid for salary increase

SPA teacher strike settled

Gov lifts freeze on pay increases and conversions

First female assigned to be Am Samoa police chief

Passengers on repat flights will now be prioritized by departure date

Hope House approved to become Medicaid provider

Territory’s Social Security Office remains closed into 2nd year

COVID pandemic cited for delays in CBDG funded projects


Task Force updates policies for repat flights and border protection

ASG has no answer to why two felons are employed by admin

Early voting starts in Samoa election

StarKist works with Immigration to alleviate critical worker shortage

Chinese overfishing in S. Pacific devastates some islands’ livelihoods

2021 Flag Day is one-day affair at Malaeoletalu

Funds running low for repat flights — at $2MIL per trip

Lack of medical services is the priority issue for Manu’a Islands

Governor signs tobacco tax legislation into law

2% wage tax repealed after 13 years

Two Stevedoring employees killed in tragic dock accident

Gov vetoes legislation hiking Retirement Fund contributions

Food prices mostly go up during COVID-19 pandemic

Non-infectious positive COVID test detected at quarantine site

COVID Task Force: Half of territory’s eligible population is vaccinated

Contraband still making its way into TCF despite new wall

Gov Lemanu reports on first 100 days of his admin


Repat passengers form strong bonds as they face the future together

New program gives discounts for broadband to eligible households

Six drug suspects taken into custody, three charged

First batch of stimulus checks go out — expect long lines at banks

Fish shortage prompts StarKist to shut down production for a week

Tagata Tutu Faatasi Alliance banner to hang in Smithsonian

Lt. Gov testifies during Congressional hearing on citizenship issues

Samoana High School celebrates 75 years

Extra seat thrown out: FAST wins Samoa election

Moody’s upgrades territory’s ‘outlook’ from negative to stable

5th repat flight postponed after positive cases announced in Honolulu

Samoa’s new PM Fiame Naomi Mataafa sworn in outside Parliament

Chamber of Commerce relates concerns over supply chain challenge

StarKist cuts back on production citing continuing worker shortage

Turkey tails continue to drive food price index up and up


Drugs including meth still making their way into correctional facility

ASG lays out reasons for U.S. Supreme Court to review LVPA case

Graduation season kicks off — high school ceremonies underway

East-West Center releases climate change report for Am Samoa

Local resident denied entry for her service-animals files ADA complaint

Hawaii health team reports positive tests among repat staff

Drug bust yields unexpected ‘gold’ — an alleged supplier

Push to get community fully COVID-19 vaccinated continues

10th Circuit Court finds in favor of ASG in citizenship case

COVID-19 Task Force fighting social media rumors about vaccine

Samoa Supreme Court reserves decision on legality of swearing-in

Task Force looking for a 70% vax rate

Supreme Court denies petition to review LVPA ruling

Three of four defendants in Futiga drug raid bound over for trial

Extended ASTCA outage in Manu’a only partially restored


Reclassification: Min wage for ASG workers increases more than $2 per hour

ASG sets up raffles to encourage those reluctant to get COVID vax

Planning and training responsible for Park Service’s rescue on Mt Alava

Ambitious plans for Lions Park area revealed at cabinet meeting

Nat’l fisheries moves to implement ‘large vessel’ fishing in territorial waters

Container ships entry into Am. Samoa delayed

It’s now legal to import service and emotional support animals into the territory

Samoa appeals court to hear F.A.S.T. swearing-in application

July drug bust nets 6 people, including a juvenile

First batch of recovery rebate payments gos out to taxpayers today

1,548 local repats home from the U.S. so far

Lawmakers briefed on plans to convene political status study commission

Senate tries again to increase contributions to retirement fund

Hawaiki submarine cable sold to BW Group

Lt Gov explains the new “TALOFAPASS” travel system

Am. Samoa temple ground breaking set


Senate tables teacher pay raise bill as “incomplete”

First regular Hawaiian Air flight postponed until Sept

Budget hearing reveals a DPS funded radio found at Le Aute

Am Samoa’s mid-year population estimate declines to just over 51,000

Senate approves retirement bill identical to one already vetoed by gov

Senate concerned on effect govt pay raises will have on local biz

Senate rejects pay raise legislation for public school teachers

First 50 StarKist ‘guest workers’ started arriving in territory this week

New emergency declaration signals major change in entry requirements

Senate bill would hike Fono office allowances and raise Gov & LT salaries

Admin finally submits bill to begin monthly federal child tax credit payments

FEMA grants $3.1 M for Fagaima flood mitigation

COVID Task Force handout out $100 per shot starting Monday

Senate votes for immediate pay raises for Gov, Lt Gov — and themselves


Amata gives details on Telehealth’s role in planning for new hospital

Jury finds ‘MAMA’ not guilty after she testifies in her own defense

ASG plans two Hawaiian Air flights per month through Dec

Remembering Sept 11th, 20 years later

Barricades up as Samoa Parliament meets

Senate rejects legislation downgrading qualifications for Territorial Auditor

$500 million+ 2022 budget bill signed into law

U.S. Dept. of Labor re-confirms federally mandated wage hike on Sept 30

Positive test for COVID-19 reported after Am Samoa resumes air service

BlueSky launches Am. Samoa’s first ESIM service

Amata updates efforts to extend Fed’s Medicaid match

DNA study reveals Samoa islands as starting point for Polynesian migration

Medicaid funding increase for FY2022 — and so will accountability

Remembering the tsunami of 2009 and the 34 Am Samoans lost

Minimum Wage hike of 40¢ per hour goes into effect today


Two new ‘border’ cases of COVID-19 from Sept 27 HNL flight

Former FMHS teacher in alleged assault of student is charged

Gov officially calls for Political Status Office to prepare for ConCon 2022

$40M+ from ARPA funds allocated for Port economic development projects

From East to West Am Samoa celebrated White Sunday

Young man accused of murdering Vietnamese man appears in court

COVID vax remains mandatory for entry into American Samoa

Christian Salea named 2022 Territorial Teacher of the Year

Alleged local extortion scheme bilks local woman of $19,000 cash

Get ready, it’s the 16th annual Tisa’s Tattoo Fest and Ka Palolo

Gov and Lt Gov get their raises, lawmakers get their allowance hike

Am Samoa reports 4th positive COVID case at the boarder

Plans to mandate vaccine for ASG employees still on the table

Am Samoa cousins indicted in death of Marine veteran in Guam

OSHA imposes penalties in April death of two stevedoring employees

Booster shots for those eligible now available at DoH vax locations

2020 Census shows a dramatic drop in Am Samoa’s population


Drop in Am Samoa Census count prompts future funding concerns

Ground breaking for Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple

Bench trial of former Chief Immigration Officer underway

COVID-19 vax now mandatory for all Executive Branch employees

Gov kills bill for a rate hike for Retirement Fund contributions

Vaccinations for children 5-11 begin today, Nov. 15, 2021

StarKist: Protection of tuna industry is paramount to territory’s economy

Jury trial of alleged drug dealer caught up in Pago Pago raid underway

Border closures to curb COVID had significant economic impact

Charging error results in acquittal in Godinet Jr drug case

FEMA funding for Fagaima flood mitigation project falls far short of cost

Opposition builds against relocating TCF to Mageo family land in Pago

Reid family foundation supports families of those suffering from Alzheimers

$100 vax incentives will be back in December

Fono leaders hear briefing on Con-Con 2022

Weekend demonstration caps ASAM group’s push against vax mandates

Mageo family halts plans for new prison facility on their Pago land

Amata alerts Commerce Secretary to Census count issue — closed borders

ASHSAA football Back-to-Back’ Championship title goes to Tafuna Warriors


Gov remarks on poor showing for Executive Branch vax mandate

Am Samoa’s GDP grows by 4% in 2020 after years of decline

StarKist quietly mandates vaccination for eligible employees

Court finds former Chief Immigration Officer not guilty of all charges

First confirmed case of Omicron variant detected in U.S.

Man faces 11 criminal counts for allegedly raping his biological daughter

VA hires full-time benefits counselor for American Samoa

Lt Gov does not mince words on need to get COVID vaccine

Jury finds man guilty of secually abusing his biological daughter

Governor extends deadline for Executive employees to get vaccinated

Gov still opting for 90% vx rate before normalizing travel to the territory

Man charged in vehicle homicide found not guilty — he wasn’t the driver

Telecom services restored to Manu’a islands with help from Ericsson systems

Local vaccine resisters are being duped by social media and faitala

Am Samoa’s fishing industry damaged to the tune of $54M this year

Domestic violence cases becoming more common incidents

Total cost for 2021 COVID travel operations estimated at $24 million

Horrific crash in front of StarKist kills 4 men — driver suspected of DUI

Driver from deadly car crash makes initial court appearance

Plans for a drug rehab facility still 3-4 years in the future

Am Samoa, the last — and the safest place to ring in the New Year