Pohnpei State remains in a state of health/medical emergency because the threat of COVID-19 pandemic for Pohnpei remains grave, though there have been major positive developments achieved within the past few months that will help strengthen prevention and improve management of the pandemic including effective vaccination, reliable testing and newly established quarantine facilities for incoming Pohnpeian citizens and residents.
On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, Governor Oliver held a meeting in the Governor’s Cabinet Conference Room to discuss the adoption of Legislative Resolution (LR) 74-21, amending Constitutional Executive Order (CEO) 20-05, by the 10th Pohnpei State Legislature. CEO 20-05 as amended, effectively dissolved the Pohnpei State COVID-19 Task Force in its entirety created on March 11, 2020, to address the extreme and persistent dangers and demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and in lieu created a Unit/Commission to take over the duties, functions, and responsibilities of the former.
The notable amendments are as follows:
- Creation of Pandemic Readiness and Response Unit (PRRU) in lieu of COVID-19 Task Force
- General admission is granted but with priorities based on listed traveler categories.
- Allowance of Human Remains (HR) deceased as a result of COVID-19.
- The expiration of the Order is June 09, 2021.
- Maximum penalties for any violation of CEO 20-05 is up to a $2,000.00 fine or 2 years imprisonment or both.
The PRRU is comprised of:
- Chief of the Division of Primary Health Care of the Department of Health Services
- Executive Officer of the Pohnpei Environmental Protection Agency
- Director of the Department of Public Safety
- General Manager of the Pohnpei Port Authority
- The Attorney General
The PRRU is under the supervision of the Chief of the Division of Primary Health Care, who heads the unit as the Commissioner of the PRRU, assumes ALL duties of the previous Task Force, and reports directly to the Governor of Pohnpei State. All rulings, instructions, directions, guidance, and other declarations issued by the former COVID-19 Task Force remain valid until superseded by action of the PRRU. PRRU will continue to ensure Pohnpei State is protected and safe from the COVID virus, and in case it reaches Pohnpei, to manage, treat and contain it.
One of the noteworthy amendments was allowing the importation of Human Remains “whose deaths may have resulted in whole or in part from a COVID-19 virus-related illness”, provided that the PRRU ensures clearance for entry into the State of Pohnpei, according to the established standard operating procedures (SOP) for the handling of COVID HR. In addition, the amendments prescribed penalties for anyone who violated handling of COVID HR with a fine of not more than $2,000 or imprisonment of not more than two years or both. The conviction is considered a felony.
Governor Oliver was joined by the Commissioner of the PRRU, Dr. Rally Jim, Acting Attorney General, Mona Abello-Pangelinan, Director of Resources and Development, Mr. Hubert Yamada, Chairman of the former Pohnpei COVID-19 Task Force, Mr. Wincener David, Director of Public Safety, Mr. Patrick Carl, Director of Treasury and Administration, Ms. Christina Elnei, Election Commissioner, Mr. Heinrich Stevenson, Chief of Staff, Kapilly Capelle and Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Peteriko Hairens.