On Friday, August 12, 2022, Governor Oliver met with the U.S. Embassy’s Charge d’affaires, Alissa M. Bibb, and Dr. Thane Hancock from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guam Office. This is Dr. Hancock’s second visit to Pohnpei in the last two years. He has been working with Department of Health Services personnel, observing Pohnpei’s COVID-19 response efforts, and delivered a presentation on Pohnpei’s COVID-19 response efforts to Governor Oliver, Director of the Department of Health Services, Mr. Wincener David, Chief of Staff Kapilly Capelle, and Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Peteriko Hairens. Vice Speaker McGarry Miguel from the 10th Pohnpei State Legislature was also present.
Alissa Bibb is the Charge D’Affaires at U.S. Embassy Kolonia and met with Governor Oliver during the meeting for the first time. Governor Oliver welcomed her and conveyed his appreciation to her and the US Government for their continued support with experts like Dr. Hancock and others, donations of supplies, vaccinations, therapeutics, and equipment that have helped Pohnpei’s COVID-19 response efforts in the last two years.
Dr. Hancock noted that Pohnpei experienced the Omicron BA.5 variant of COVID-19 with high numbers of infections spreading rapidly, with mild to moderate symptoms. Dr. Hancock went on to say that while re-infections are likely to occur with a new strain or new virus, he believed that the recent, first surge of infections would likely be the worst surge of infections for Pohnpei. Dr. Hancock noted that Pohnpei is in a great position due to the number of vaccinated people (over 75%) and our recent exposure to COVID-19 with numbers of new infections dropping every day. He commended the health workers, front liners, and all who were involved in Pohnpei’s COVID-19 response.
Also joining Charge d’ Affaires Bibb was U.S. Navy CDR. Thomas Price, US Embassy Defense Attache’, Kyle Papish, Assistant Defense Attache’, LCDR Wes Saavedra from Joint Region Marianas, and Mr. Roger Gardner, USAID Country Program Manager.