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Limited report on Task Force operation shows $33 million+ in spending

Earier Task Force meeting
63% of funds disbursed went directly to local private businesses

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — While a detailed report on American Samoa’s 2021 COVID-19 Task Force Operation is still to come, the Governor’s State of the Territory Comprehensive Report states that more than $33 million in local and federal funds were used for the “Repatriation, Quarantine and Vaccination” initiatives, which “have proven successful.”

Several lawmakers were expecting such a report to be provided on Monday during a Joint Session of the Fono, where Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga delivered his State of the Territory Address.

However, none was provided to lawmakers. Instead, limited information was provided in the Governor’s comprehensive report on the cost of the repatriation, quarantine and vaccination initiatives, with a notation saying that: “For a more detailed analysis on the AS COVID response, a 2021 Covid Task Force Operations Report is forthcoming.”

Samoa News understands that during the COVID-19 Task Force meeting earlier this week, Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Ale, who is also chairman, mentioned that there will be a financial report regarding the funding for all “Repatriation, Quarantine and Vaccination” projects. And that he needs numbers for overtime workers from all the other departments excluding the Health Department.

Information received by Samoa News states that Talauega also needs final numbers from DoH, the ASG Medicaid Office and LBJ Medical Center on how much was utilized to pay personnel. The task force wants to finalize the report before the end of this month.

The governor’s comprehensive report states that both local and federal funds totaling over $33.29 million were “well spent supporting” — the repatriation, quarantine and vaccination initiatives for the public health response efforts to the pandemic.

“As a result, we have successfully authorized and vetted the entry of approximately 5,500 travelers — residents, visitors, guest workers and skilled healthcare resources — from Jan. 3 to Dec. 15, 2021 from the U.S mainland to include Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand and within the region,” the report states.

“Of the funds spent, over 63% or $20,940,958.61 million went directly to various local private businesses that provided support and services to our initiatives, and 37% or $12,354,590.05 was spent on off-island vendors,” it says. “Most importantly, we have successfully safeguarded our island home and community from the COVID-19 virus.”