Gov’s new committee makes recommendations for ‘next move’ — some easing on the table
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The new committee appointed by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga on May 17th to review and provide recommendations on the next move after the current Fourth Emergency Declaration expires May 31st has provided their recommendations.
ASG coronavirus task force chairman, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira said last Friday that recommendations and information from the new committee have been received by the task force and the coronavirus working group. The report is being prepared for transmission to the Governor for his review and final decision.
Iulogologo also provided “primary factors … which drove the recommendations” from the task force and the working group. Among them is that the COVID-19 numbers continue to be trending upward [in the US] with some jurisdictions experiencing resurgence after loosening restrictions.
Additionally, American Samoa still does not have a sufficient number of Test-Kits to test our first responders, symptomatic individuals, vulnerable population, asymptomatic persons, and for random testing of our population.
Furthermore, the Health Department “is still working to improve the integrity of its contact tracing protocol so when we do have a confirmed case it could be effectively deployed to quickly contain the spread before our healthcare system is overwhelmed.”
Another primary factor, he said, is that there is “still very little we know about the nature of the Coronavirus so the longer we maintain our Coronavirus Free Status we will benefit from the current race to find a vaccine or an effective drug to improve recovery outcomes or to gain immunity from being infected.”
• Our healthcare system can be easily over taxed or collapse if and when we do have a COVID-19 outbreak.
• We still don't have sufficient quarantine facilities to quarantine travelers into our island or our returning residents.
He also said the task force and the working group have assessed each of the existing restrictions in light of these factors and they “are recommending easing of some of the ongoing restrictions.”
“The Governor of course will make the final decision on the presented recommendations,” he said.
There have been calls from parents and students for public high schools to be allowed to hold public ceremonies for seniors, and this has also been planned for private high schools. With borders remaining closed until June 30th, what are the chances of ASG allowing public high schools to hold public graduations instead of the planned virtual ones, set for next month?
“We are not aware that some of the private schools have conducted on-site graduation ceremonies,” said Iulogologo. “Some of the private schools have presented proposals which are being reviewed for the Governor's decision adopting the same graduation format with assurances that social distancing protocols will be practiced religiously.”
He said some of the private schools have very small graduating classes and have offered to divide graduations into two or three sessions so social distancing protocols are fully complied with.
Iulogologo noted that public high schools have graduates exceeding 100 or more, so greater challenges emanate, which make social distancing very difficult to satisfy. He said the Education director has already worked with the school principals on the graduation format, which will be employed by each high school.
At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga requested the task force and the working group to meet with him tomorrow — Wednesday — to work on finalizing the next emergency declaration before May 31st, which is when the current one expires.