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UPDATE: COVID Task Force updates future plans for the TALOFAPass


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The COVID-19 Task Force Operations financial report covering 2022, provides a new update of what the government plans to do with the TALOFAPass online platform, that was utilized to pre-screen travelers entering the territory during the COVID restrictions.

There was much public criticism of TALOFAPass, under the ASG “Safe-Travel Program” but the government and health officials maintained that TALOFAPass played a vital role in keeping the territory safe during border closure period.

By November of last year, TALOFAPass was no longer required as a pre-travel requirement and it was transitioned into the American Samoa Declarations system where health questionnaires could be completed to allow for continued monitoring and surveillance of travelers, according to the report.

The report revealed that a “committee has been tasked to transition the platform to explore new and innovative uses as we adapt to the post COVID-19 environment.”

And this endeavor will be headed the ASG Chief Information Officer. The task is to transition the platform as a tool to improve government services for the residents and businesses in American Samoa, according to the report.

“This development will allow a wide range of possibilities providing better delivery of public services to the people, enhancing business and industry collaborations, citizen empowerment through access to information and more effective governance,” the report says, but didn’t elaborate on when the committee will begin its work and a time frame to have it completed.

The report shows that $3.2 million for the “Safe Travels”, TALOFAPass was paid to contractor, DataHouse.

The report also summarized information on the reason behind the setup of this portal. It explains that developing a system to handle a large number of travelers requiring multiple clearance approvals on a single platform, as American Samoa transitioned from restricted air travel through the stringent repatriation period from February to August 2021 to commercial flights was critical to ensuring the territory was COVID free.

To accomplish this objective, $5.7 million in American Samoa’s share of the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) was used to design and develop what became known as the Safe Travels — TALOFAPass system.

“This proved to be an excellent investment and use of technology for multiple inter-agency applications,” the Task Force claimed in the report.

“This streamlined the vetting and review process for travelers into American Samoa and allowed for orderly collection and tracking of important passenger information data as a key safeguard feature,” it says.

As American Samoa experienced its first case of community spread of the COVID-19 virus in February 2022, “we have also adapted the Safe Travels TALOFAPass System as a passenger Health Declaration site. The site allows for travelers to upload required information from the comfort of their home prior to traveling.”

“In 2022, the TALOFAPass platform continued to be a valuable tool utilized by the government to track both incoming passengers but also the positive and recovery COVID-19 cases from community spread,” the report says and noted that the TALOFAPass was also utilized for requests for the transport of human remains during the COVID-19 border closure period.