Rep. Yumul: What’s holding up Covid-19 test results?

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DURING discussions on Monday morning in the House chamber regarding the CNMI Community Focused Recovery Plan, Rep. Ralph Yumul raised concerns about the effects of the plan on the small business community.

As a small business owner himself, Yumul questioned the effectiveness of the Covid-19 community-based testing, specifically in regards to the lag in receiving test results.

This concern was raised after the Governor’s Economic Task Force presented mitigation efforts, including mandating businesses to require their employees to be tested prior to returning to work.

Ralph Yumul

Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna reported that as of Sunday, over 400 tests were still awaiting results.

“What is the hold up in all of the testing? We are demanding that each business do testing, but your reply is that there are over 400 [tests] pending here. What messages are you telling the businesses here, and the people of the CNMI?” asked Rep. Yumul.

“I don’t think the businesses have any issues with having their employees tested, as well as members of the community, because I believe that they have been trying to [get tested].”

Muna explained that the process can take more than a day, and that in terms of testing capacity, they are hoping to achieve at least 800 tests per day.

She said any glitches in the process are addressed as quickly as possible, but added that the diagnosis and administrative part of the process takes some time.

For his part, Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corp. Chairman Alex Sablan said, “We are asking the people to be patient because there is a limitation in the processing of tests,” adding  that he himself also had to be patient when registering to be tested for Covid-19 through the community-based testing.

At the beginning of these discussions, Sablan highlighted the exemplary testing capacity that the Commonwealth has, noting that it has obtained 60,000 kits, which can test 100% of the population.

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