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$2.7M for insular areas included in 2020 Supplemental Coronavirus Act

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WASHINGTON (Press Release) — U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary of Insular and International Affairs Douglas W. Domenech, recognized and applauded the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for their ongoing technical assistance and financial support to the U.S. territories and the Freely Associated States during the current Coronavirus pandemic. This includes the additional $2.7 million in support to the insular areas as part of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L.116-123), signed by President Trump on March 6, 2020, and announced by the U.S. Department of Health Services on March 11.

“Health systems and infrastructure are especially vulnerable in the island areas, and as of today, both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam have reported positive cases of Covid-19,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “The CDC has been a long-time partner to the U.S. territories and the freely associated states and we appreciate the ongoing support and expertise that they continue to provide, especially during this unprecedented time. My team and I at the Office of Insular Affairs are in touch with the governors of each of the territories and are evaluating ways to provide supplemental support and assistance as needed.”

Support to the U.S. insular areas is coordinated through the CDC’s Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support in Atlanta, Georgia. For many years, the CDC has engaged with the U.S. insular areas to develop and continuously refine emergency response plans, including response plans for pandemic influenza, through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness or PHEP program. The PHEP program includes cooperative agreement funding and technical assistance for the U.S. territories and FAS.

In the 2020 Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, H.R.6074, signed into law by the President earlier this month (P.L.116-123), an additional $8.3 billion has been made available to support state and local jurisdictions to respond to Covid-19. The Act included statutory language prescribing the exact formula for disbursing funding under the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program. The following amounts have been made available to the territories and the FAS to support their response to Covid-19: American Samoa - $370,246.50; Guam - $479,431.80; Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands - $369,765.90; U.S. Virgin Islands - $419,100.30; Republic of the Marshall Islands - $367,754.40; Federated States of Micronesia - $420,402.60; Republic of Palau - $336,793.50.

Currently, the CDC is collaborating with others to adapt existing response plans for the current Covid-19 threat. The CDC is supporting each jurisdiction in applying their plans and facilitating regular regional calls for the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands or USAPI to provide a forum for them to share information.

The CDC also provides technical assistance and develops additional funding options to support regional mechanisms for infectious disease response such as the laboratory specimen shipment mechanism that allows public health laboratories in Hawaii and Guam to provide testing services for the USAPI.

The CDC provides direct support to the islands’ Covid-19 response through their emergency operations center in Atlanta, and through staff assigned in Guam, Honolulu, and Puerto Rico. For more information on CDC’s Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, visit https://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/about-cstlts/index.html

In related efforts, President Trump declared on March 13, 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant an emergency declaration for all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. More on this announcement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency may be found at: https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2020/03/13/covid-19-emergency-declaration

For NMI

Assistant Secretary Domenech also announced $366,900 in FY 2020 Technical Assistance Program funding to the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Funds will be used to purchase personal protective equipment and hygienic supplies for government workers in the CNMI during the coronavirus disease 2019 or Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am pleased to provide this support to CNMI Gov. Ralph DLG Torres as the CNMI works to implement preventive measures during this unprecedented pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “One advantage of funding provided through the Office of Insular Affairs is that we can move it quickly during times of emergency and need. We are also coordinating with our federal partners to ensure that the funding we provide is complementary and not duplicative.”

The grant was made available through the Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance Program. More information on other federal funding support to combat Covid-19 in the insular areas is available at https://www.doi.gov/oia/press/interior-applauds-centers-disease-controls-support-us-territories-and-freely-associated.

For more information about the work of the Office of Insular Affairs, visit www.doi.gov/oia or follow on Twitter @ASIIADomenech.

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