Repatriation flights to give “priority” to those stranded off island longest
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga, in a Jan. 25 memorandum to his cabinet members, explained a few issues that must be addressed and clarified regarding repatriation and Medicaid charter flights.
And in a separate memorandum to the public, the governor announced the launch of the American Samoa Repatriation Donation Drive — with six identified drop-off locations on island. The drive ends this Saturday, Jan. 30th.
The governor also revealed that travelers on the repatriation flight will endure 26-days of strict quarantine.
REPATRIATION AND MEDICAL CHARTER FLIGHTS
As the process to repatriate local residents is in the progress, the governor said a few issues must be addressed regarding the repatriation and Medicaid charter flights.
He explained that passengers traveling from Pago Pago to Honolulu on future Medicaid charter flights “shall not be considered [for] priority to return” home on scheduled repatriation flights, which are “specifically designated” for local residents who are “stranded” off island, and the “priority will be given to those who have been stranded for the longest period of time.”
Lemanu made clear that repatriation flights are not intended for the purpose of leisure travel and visiting family in American Samoa with the intention to return on the next schedule Medicaid charter flight.
The governor pointed out that outbound Medicaid charter flights are for residents seeking medical treatment in the U.S. and any remaining seats not used by Medicaid patients will be priced using the cost-share formula provided by Medicaid and sold to the public “on a first-come, first-served basis”.
Furthermore, passengers who are attempting to use American Samoa as a transit point to neighboring Pacific Island countries will not be granted the privilege to travel on the repatriation flights.
“American Samoa’s border will continue to remain closed until the spread of COVID-19 is no longer a threat to our territory,” Lemanu declared.
In a separate memo, titled “Long Journey Home: American Samoa Repatriation Donation Driver”, the governor said ASG with the support of the private sector, faith-based organizations, non-profit and NGO’s is organizing a donation drive for hundreds of residents stranded across the U.S for nearly a year.
Lemanu said the first of multiple repatriation flights is expected to arrive Feb. 1st and upon arrival “our residents will have to endure 26-days of strict quarantine.”
To the public, the governor and Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Va’alele Ale “appeal to your spirit of compassion, unity, and hope to welcome our people home.”
According to the memo, the donation drive efforts aim to assemble care packages that will provide comfort and relief during the final quarantine phase of repatriation efforts.
Personal hygiene products such as shampoo, conditioner, soap/body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush, feminine products, etc, are among the items needed for the care packages.
“Therefore, we seek your support in realizing our welcoming efforts,” the governor said, adding that this is “our opportunity to come together as a community to assure our stranded residents that they have not been forgotten.
“Our prayer is that this donation project is executed in the spirit of the Fa’aSamoa,” he said and provided a Samoan quote, “Ia tupu mea avea.”
According to the memo, there are six drop off locations:
• Plans & Operations Office - 3rd Floor of the EOB - Mon-Fri. 8a.m to 4p.m
• Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs Gyms - Mon-Fri. 8a.m to 4p.m
• Bluesky Communication at Laufou Shopping Center - Mon.-Fri. 8:30a.m. to 5:30p.m
• Bluesky Communications - Fagatogo Kiosk - Mon-Sat 8:30a.m. to 2p.m
• Sadie’s by the Sea - Mon-Sun. 7a.m. to 8p.m
• Tool Shop Tafuna - Mon-Fri. 7:30a.m to 4:30p.m
Deadline for donation is Saturday, Jan. 30th