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Trump releases $2.5M in Covid-19 emergency relief funds for NMI

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WASHINGTON (Interior Department) — The Trump administration, through U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary Douglas W. Domenech, announced Tuesday the release of $2,518,897 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act funds for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to renovate and retrofit hospital emergency care and isolation areas, prepare quarantine sites, and purchase medical equipment. This emergency relief funding was made available under the CARES Act through Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs to the territories and the Freely Associated States to prepare, prevent, and respond to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

“Secretary David Bernhardt and I are pleased to see that the CNMI is moving quickly to effectively utilize the Covid-19 funding provided for under the CARES Act through Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “We applaud the CNMI’s work to upgrade and retrofit the hospital for better infectious disease control, develop quarantine sites, and upgrade necessary medical equipment in order to further serve and protect their resident populations and visitors. We also thank President Trump for securing this critical funding from Congress to support the insular areas.”

The projects for which the CNMI has received approval to utilize the $2,518,897 are listed below:

• $714,837 will be used to retrofit and renovate emergency rooms for infectious disease control at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., the only hospital in the CNMI. Retrofitting is necessary to improve patient intake, flow, and isolation, while protecting the safety and well-being of both patients and healthcare workers. Funds will also be used to acquire appropriate medical equipment necessary to provide infectious disease care.

• $487,182 will fund acquisition of an oxygen generation system and mobile ultraviolet cleaning or decontamination device for use at the CHCC.

• $396,830 will be used to provide an upgrade for the CHCC’s reverse osmosis and sterilization systems.

• $371,800 will be used to prepare the former Mariana Resort property, now under the jurisdiction of the CNMI government, to serve as a non-congregate shelter or quarantine site for inbound passengers. Over 100 rooms in varying sizes will be made available for Covid-19-related activities and for patients should cases reach upsurge limits or if the virus should spread exponentially within the community.

• $320,718 will be used to make parking lot infrastructure upgrades and adjustments necessary related to the official medical care and treatment site as approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

• $227,530 will be used purchase a mobile x-ray system and a computerized tomography or CT scan system and supplies for the CHCC.

In April, the Office of Insular Affairs formally invited the insular areas governments to submit requests for emergency relief funding made available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. At that time, $55 million in emergency relief funding was awarded to the territories and the freely associated states to prepare, prevent, and respond to the pandemic. OIA divided the $55 million among the insular areas, and the CNMI was awarded a total amount of $4,042,585, leaving a balance of $1,523,688 available for additional Covid-19 related expenditures in the CNMI.

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