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COVID UPDATE: Task Force aims to neutralize latest positive cases

Chairman Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Ale
Quarantine period proven to be most effective way of preventing spread
compiled by Samoa News staff

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The COVID-19 Task Force is reporting that the task force is aiming to neutralize and contain the two latest confirmed COVID cases so there is no community spread. This comes as American Samoa’s first positive case is doing fine at home after successfully recovering, testing negative and going home to her family.

Just like the first positive case, who traveled home on Sept. 13th, on the first Hawaiian Airlines commercial flight, the latest two travelers who tested positive and came on the Sept. 27th Hawaiian flight were all discovered during COVID testing when travelers are in quarantine upon arrival. All positive travelers are fully vaccinated.

While many have criticized the lengthy and costly quarantine requirements imposed by the government and the Task Force, the quarantine period has proven to be the most effective way of preventing the spread of the disease in the local community.

After discovery of the first positive case during day three of quarantine in American Samoa, the traveler was required to undergo 14 days of isolation. The traveler, who exhibited a loss of smell but was overall doing well, was retested and the result was negative. The passenger was released to her family on Friday, Oct. 1st, 2021.

During the regular meeting of the Task Force on Monday, Oct. 4th, 2021, Chairman Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Ale asked about the status of the first positive traveler, and Department of Health’s Dr. Elizabeth Lauvao reported that the individual is currently undergoing seven days of self-monitoring and is doing “very well.”

On the status of the two positive travelers from the Sept. 27th flight, Dr. Lauvao reports that they’re both asymptomatic and are also doing well. Three other passengers who came in close contact with the two positive cases were also put in isolation as a precaution. 

The Lt Governor was pleased to hear that all positive cases are doing well and asked the Task Force to keep them and their families in prayers. Pointing to the first positive case who has successfully overcome the disease and is now non-infectious, Task Force Chair Talauega said this is the goal of the Task Force — to make sure that every positive case is contained and neutralized and the traveler is released [only] after becoming non-infectious.


Task Force Chair Talauega touched on the unintended consequences of a border closure in response to voices in the community calling for a border closure due to the recent ‘imported’ COVID-19 cases.

“We have already seen and heard examples of the impact on children and families that were separated, residents facing homelessness, food insecurity, and the immense financial burdens faced by those stranded abroad during the pandemic.” Talauega pointed out.

He went on to discuss the need to finalize the proposed flight schedule for the 2022 calendar year and what the future of quarantine operations may look like as the Task Force looks ahead to consider quarantine costs incurred by travelers.

Hawaiian Air Station Manager Tuli Fruean reported that flights throughout the remaining months of the year have been fully booked and TALOFAPASS data indicates registrations on the system have far exceeded available seats.

Among some of the challenges reported by the Task Force are travelers who are not being honest regarding their medical history and past history of COVID-19.

Other issues include disruptive or noncompliant travelers in quarantine and damages sustained to hotel rooms.


The last day of the $100 vaccination incentive program is October 15th and the COVID-19 Task Force encourages all members awaiting their second shot or that have yet to receive their first shot do so before the deadline to claim their cash incentive.

The $100 cash incentive awarded to residents for getting a COVID vaccination shot definitely helped push the number of vaccinations for the month of September.

A total of 6,638 doses were administered in September, beating out vaccine totals for each month since May. The average dose for May to August was 4,226.

DOH Epidemiologist Dr. Aifili John Tufa reported that of the 6,638 doses, more than half of them were given to those who had just come in for their first vaccination shot. He said if the same number of individuals return for their 2nd doses, it will definitely push the full vaccination rate close to the territory’s goal of 80% or more.

As of Oct. 4th, 71.6% of American Samoa’s population has received at least one dose while 64.8% are fully vaccinated.

DOH Pharmacist Dr. Francine Amoa, who also oversees the vaccination campaigns, said the US Food Drug and Administration has announced that it will review on Oct. 26th data for the 5 to 11 year olds for the Pfizer vaccination. This means vaccination of kids as young as 5 could possibly start later this year.

(Source: COVID-19 Task Force press release)