Medical group: extend border closure, add business hours

It’s the recommendation of medical personnel at  the Department of Health, LBJ Hospital and the VA Clinic to extend the closure of borders to June 30 but to relax business hours of operation.

Their recommendation is for public  transportation  to operate from 5am to 8pm and all other businesses to open from  6am to 8pm. Currently businesses and public transportation operate from 6am to 6pm except for StarKist Samoa and supporting businesses.

The recommendations were presented at yesterday’s meeting of the Coronavirus Task Force which had more bodies crammed  in the Emergency Operations Center.

Along with the Task Force and Coronavirus Working Group, the latest group that the governor set up in relation to coronavirus , the Compliance Review Committee, also had members present.

Regarding the recommendation to extend business hours,  Commissioner of Public Safety Le’i Sonny Thompson suggested that the Task Force set a number of people allowed into stores.

He said its been difficult for police to enforce social distancing rules in big stores like Ace and Cost U Less.

He said at the PX only ten people are allowed in at a time.

W hen police try to enforce that in big stores, they almost get into fights with business owners and customers who point out there’s no such restriction in the COVID-19 declaration.

Chief Medical Officer at LBJ Hospital Dr. Iotamo Saleapaga suggested that the number of people allowed into a story should depend on its size.  The bigger the store , the more people that should be allowed inside.

Governor Lolo named a small group who will review the current declaration and come up with recommendations on what needs to be changed.

He said by this Sunday the group should have a skeleton of how to move forward after the current declaration ends on May 31st.

Member s of this group are the Attorney General, Director of Health, LBJ Hospital CEO, chairman of the Coronavirus Task Force, and the Chief of Staff/Governor’s Authorized Representative.

At the suggestion of Health Director Motusa Tuileama Nua,  the governor added Director of the VA Clinic Dr. Fred Uhrle to the group.

Epidemiologist Dr Aifili John Tufa’s presentation included data on  the spread of coronavirus in different countries and compared those which had strong response actions like restricting movement, banning public gatherings and closing borders, to those which had lax response.

The pattern has been that premature relaxation of restrictions can lead to a resurgence of cases and deaths.

Dr. Tufa said there are lessons to be learnt from what is happening in other countries particularly with regards to reopening and relaxing some of the restrictions.