NMI conducts ‘aggressive’ public information campaign, says press secretary

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THE governor’s Covid-19 Task Force and the Torres administration are conducting a strong and aggressive public information campaign, Press Secretary Kevin Bautista said in response to a U.S. Press Freedom Tracker article on press briefings and transparency in the territories.

The article quoted a reporter who said that the governor “stopped holding Covid-19 press conferences entirely following technical difficulties on a Zoom call.”

The article also noted a “lack of interactive press briefings” in the CNMI.

But according to Bautista, “This administration has responded to inquiries from our local CNMI media partners upon request and has granted them access for all media availabilities such as the unveiling of our Medical Care and Treatment Site at CHCC and donation drives, as well as press conferences that we hold after each public event with the governor during this Covid-19 operation. The governor has been focused on one mission, and that is to protect the people of the CNMI. So far, as opposed to other areas within our region that have large spikes in their cases and have their own problems to deal with, we have kept our curve flat through the proactive leadership of Governor Torres, CHCC CEO  Esther Muna, and task force Chairman Villagomez, through strong partnerships with FEMA, DoD, and HHS, and through our aggressive and thorough public information campaign that helps to stop the spread of Covid-19.”

Bautista added, “Most importantly, here in the CNMI, we are keeping everyone informed and have been transparent with our Covid-19 case reporting, our community-based testing strategy, our fiscal response summit where we put all fiscal options on the table in plain view, and our federal expenditure plans regarding the CARES Act. We have shared this administration's priorities when it comes to getting money into the hands of residents and have been technologically innovative in creating websites and portals for direct deposit in line with social distancing practices to help stop the spread.”

Bautista said the “process is never perfect, and we can never please everyone. But we know that we continue to respond to our media partners as best we can, give them all the accurate information, and we work together here in the CNMI to protect ourselves from this virus. That work will not stop, and so far, because of the good work being done by our front liners, we're going to keep our curve flatter than Guam and the rest of the country. We have no time to play into national media talking points. We will protect the people of the CNMI in the way we know how, and so far, these 14 islands in the westernmost area of the United States are doing it with grace, humility, and proactive action to keep its people protected.”

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