NMI health officials discuss Covid-19 scenarios

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WHAT do you do if you suspect that you or someone you know may have contracted Covid-19? During a press conference on Monday, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna and chairman of the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force Warren Villagomez, discussed different scenarios and what steps would be taken to contain the virus.

Muna said that it is possible for an individual in a household to test positive for the virus, while other members of the same household test negative.

“There are two things: You could have had [the virus], but your body basically fought it, [so] you are probably likely not going to spread it, [or] maybe you did not get it [because] you just did not have that encounter. The transmission is still by human contact, [through] droplets,” she added.

She said should someone in your household experience signs of the virus, “you could quarantine that individual [by placing] him or her in a separate room, but also practice personal hygiene, making sure that you wash your hands to avoid contamination….”

Muna said someone who will test positive for Covid-19 will not receive a “surprise billing” for his or her medical treatment.

Medicare and Medicaid have waivers that will cover the infected person’s medical bill, and will reimburse the local hospital for its expenses in treating the patient, she added.

Testing for Covid-19 is available on a case-by-case basis, she said. Only those who are suspected to have contracted the virus will be tested for it.

Muna said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are working on adding more tests.

Villagomez said after the creation of the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force on March 5, the group “came up with a criteria outlining priorities” and a “playbook.”

This includes procedures for CNMI schools, “determining triggers for school closure, disinfecting the schools, and making sure that the population are [protected] in the event that we have an outbreak or a potential case.”

The plan includes transporting, if needed, Rota or Tinian patients to Saipan for “higher level medical assistance,” Villagomez said.

The governor and his task force encourage everyone to stay at home and to take extra precautions that are in line with guidelines provided by CDC and CHCC.

“Are we here to tell you that we are 100% safe? No, we are not,” the governor said on Monday. “But we are here to tell you that we are 100% certain that we are trying everything we can to prevent any outbreak here in our islands, and if we do have one, there is a playbook — there are [measures] in place for us to move forward.”

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