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Governor Lemanu releases COVID-19 operations report

Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga
He commends former Gov. Lolo for his early leadership

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Governor’s Office yesterday released “American Samoa’s Response to the COVID Pandemic: COVID-19 Task Force Operations Report 2021”, which provides “a comprehensive narrative on all the activities undertaken by the government to manage the impact of COVID over our daily lives,” says task force chair Talauega Eleasalo Ale, in a letter to the governor that is part of the final 51-page report.

“It provides a chronological look into the COVID-19 travel operations and associated expenses for January- December 2021 beginning with a budget overview of major costs and expenses,” Talauega wrote to Gov. Lemanu Peleti Pelepoi Sialega Mauga.

Additionally, the report follows the two phases of air travel operations beginning with repatriation charters in the first half of the year and into the current phase of limited commercial travel.

Furthermore, a summary is provided of the territory’s ongoing mass vaccination efforts to reach the Governor’s goal of a 90% fully vaccinated population and concludes with a year-end update on the Territory’s vaccination coverage status, benefits of COVID-19 funds to the local economy, and the road ahead in combating this pandemic.

“We will continue to convene weekly meetings to coordinate and facilitate mass vaccinations and safe travels into the territory to the very best of our abilities,” he concluded.

In his cover letter with the report, the governor commended the “courageous leadership” of former Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga for closing borders in March 2020 at the outbreak of the COVID-19 “when there was great uncertainty.”

And when the new Administration took the helm of government in January 2021, it “continued with safety initiatives enacted by the previous administration — tasking key members of our public and private sectors to assess our capability to respond to a potential disaster and recommend plans to safely repatriate our citizens.”

“The successful repatriation of our citizens as well as our emergency response is attributed to the effective leadership of the COVID-19 Task Force,” he said.

While the return to commercial flights has seen imported positive cases, the governor noted that, “we have managed to successfully contain them without community spread.”

“The risk of the COVID-19 virus remains constant as new variants emerge and much of the globe remains unvaccinated,” he said. “However, we must be vigilant in both maintaining stringent and safe travel protocols and pushing forward with our mass vaccination efforts.”

Lemanu said he is “proud of the work that the COVID-19 Task Force and our leaders have done to protect our people — we remain one of the few places in the world who has successfully kept this deadly infection out of our Territory.”

The governor recognized the hard work undertaken by the government and frontline workers. He thanked Fono members and leaders for their invaluable contributions.

Additionally, he acknowledged with much appreciation support and help from federal partners — the US Interior Department, U.S Federal Emergency Management Agency, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, U.S Education Department and the  U.S. Congress “for providing the financial capital to carry out this important work.”

Furthermore, he commended his cabinet members and all their hardworking staff who have sacrificed much of their energy to carry out local COVID-19 operations.

And he also expressed thanks to Talauega, who is also the Governor’s Authorized Representative (GAR) “for his commitment and leadership – we are one step closer to normalcy because of your tireless efforts to ensure the safety and survival of our people.”

Samoa News will report this week on separate issues cited in the report, which was also sent to lawmakers and others.