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Governor announces federal assistance for Covid-19 response

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(Office of the Governor) — Gov. Ralph DLG Torres on Friday announced that President Donald J. Trump has approved the governor’s March 3, 2020 request for federal assistance to aid ongoing CNMI efforts to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.

As of March 13, 2020, FEMA has officially been authorized to provide appropriate assistance and to provide emergency protective measures (Category B) not authorized under other Federal statutes, including direct federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program.

Governor Torres also announced his ongoing efforts with the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide economic injury disaster loans for the CNMI’s businesses, which have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak and the loss of tourists coming into the Commonwealth.

Below is the governor’s full announcement:

“Hafa Adai and Tirow, Marianas.

“I know it has been a long week for all of us.

“While we do not have a confirmed case of Covid-19 here in the CNMI, your government through our Covid-19 Task Force and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, continues to be proactive and implement strict social distancing procedures to keep you, your families, our manamko’ and our loved ones with preexisting illnesses safe.

“With all the work that Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios, CHCC CEO Esther Muna, our task force, and I have been doing, we haven’t been able to make this public announcement about additional federal support.

“On March 3, 2020, I wrote to President Trump to inform him of our impending crisis in the CNMI that is being driven by the dramatic effects of the Covid-19 outbreak and sought his assistance to mobilize federal resources to aid the CNMI government in our response to this pandemic.

“Earlier this week, in response to my communication, FEMA has officially been authorized to provide appropriate assistance and to provide emergency protective measures (Category B) not authorized under other Federal statutes, including direct federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program.

“FEMA Region IX Administrator Robert Fenton, who has been a strong partner of ours during typhoons, directly informed that the President’s declaration covers all of our islands, Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, for Covid-19 response.

“We have already started working closely with FEMA since March 13 to access all the federal resources available to the CNMI pursuant to the Presidential declaration, including my request for the mobilization of the Incident Management Assistance Team to assist the CNMI in its emergency protective measures and response coordination to combat Covid-19.

“I am also working with the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide economic injury disaster loans for our affected businesses. Through the support of our businesses, we have successfully completed submission of required survey worksheets to SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. I am further pleased to report that these worksheets have been approved and accepted. We are now awaiting SBA issuance of its declaration to begin offering economic injury disaster loans to our impacted businesses and non-profit organizations.

“Federal support at my request is well on its way, so we are not alone in this crisis.

“This crisis is bigger than politics and bigger than ourselves. It is a challenging time for our Commonwealth, but I know that if we all work together, help each other out, and promote social distancing, we can beat this virus.

“We will always be Marianas Strong, and I will continue to provide updates, along with our Covid-19 Task Force, CHCC, and all our local and federal partners.

“Thank you, Si Yu’us Ma’ase, and Ghilisow.”

Governor Torres also expressed his appreciation to the leadership of both houses of the Legislature in assisting in securing additional federal assistance for the Marianas.

“I want to thank Senate President Victor B. Hocog, Speaker BJ T. Attao, and the leadership of both the House and Senate for their support and commitment in working with my office to secure this federal assistance from the President. Both houses are also committed to leverage local funding for our public health emergency,” said Governor Torres.

“The President and FEMA have been strong partners for the Marianas for several years now, and we look forward to working with them to strengthen our response to the Covid-19 outbreak. My administration and the Legislature’s leadership will continue to work with our federal partners to secure additional funding to protect our community from Covid-19.”

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