The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs has awarded $1,670,450 in CARES Act grant funding to the American Samoa government to help repatriate American Samoans stranded outside of the territory since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic
American Samoa has been coordinating with Insular Affairs and other federal partners to repatriate residents back to the territory, according to a news release. It will use the funds to support pre-quarantine requirements to help ensure American Samoa’s ongoing status as the only U.S. jurisdiction without any COVID-19 cases.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restriction of travel into the territory, hundreds of American Samoans have been stranded outside of the territory and have been unable to return home,” said Nikolao Pula Insular Affairs director and acting assistant secretary for Insular and International Affairs.
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The repatriation has been a huge collective effort that includes health workers, American Samoa, Hawaii and federal officials. It also included community service and church organizations, such as the Tagata Tutufa’atasi Alliance of American Samoa, who have also provided food, shelter and other ongoing support to those who have been stranded since last year, the release stated.
A Feb. 5 press release issued by American Samoa states protecting the territory from COVID-19 remains the No. 1 priority. The American Samoa government hopes to be able to bring more residents home as soon as possible.