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PDM Administration, the “NO REPLY” Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands

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Photo by Magnetic Media, PDM Cabinet Ministers, July 2020

#EDITORIAL – September 6, 2020 – One of the most common accusations levelled against the PDM Administration Government, amidst the coronavirus pandemic is:  “I’m getting no reply.”

Magnetic Media is in receipt of emails, text notes, WhatsApp messages, phone calls and Facebook messages on a daily basis which accuse the Turks and Caicos Islands Government – from Premier to Ministers to Chief Medical Officer – of not responding to urgent questions and serious dilemmas communicated in the midst of the string of crises brought on by COVID-19.

Tourists are cancelling vacations. 

Terminated work permit holders cannot leave the country.

Residents question the safety going home after possible coronavirus exposure at work, for fear of possibly contaminating high-risk loved ones.

And employers cannot execute any screening of staff, even if they wanted to.

The reason: Despite at least two facilities attempting to offer the service, Government has yet to approve a community-based COVID-19 testing facility in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Incomprehensively, government is also denying travel-oriented tests to residents, terminated workers who need to return to their countries of origin and tourists, yes tourists who also need to have a negative PCR test in order to re-enter their home countries.

Each case is of low priority, according to the testing protocols issued by the TCI Ministry of Health.

Government is on record often, restating that there is ‘wide consultation.’ However, many professionals and industries are dumbfounded at being side-lined in the face of this multi-pronged problem.

Travel and Tourism, globally is on life support.  Just this week, American Airlines announced 40,000 jobs would be impacted by terminations and layoffs.

The World Travel & Tourism Council has surmised that the Turks and Caicos has taken a near $100 million dollar hit in tourism earnings in the first quarter of 2020 and this week, the Immigration Minister revealed over 3,825 people are laid off amidst the pandemic.

This impact was forecast since April in a Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association commissioned KPMG report.  The findings were immediately presented to the PDM Government.

Again, to this report reaction by Government was labelled ‘slow’ and a major opportunity for a unique financing plan for the private sector and tourism as the leading industry, may have been missed.

Government’s grand design for stimulus payments is now stalled.  A cash-strapped public purse is feeling the effects of the crippled local economy, though there have been some recent payouts to more businesses.

No robust tourism equates to significantly reduced income, which leaves government with little to no revenue to collect.

Relations are tense.  The Governor is audible, but only in whispers. 

Those writing to Magnetic Media explain that the Governor is responsive but has expressed that he would prefer to allow the local government to lead.

But where is the leadership?  Or at least the ‘caring leadership’ the people had been promised?

File: PDM in opposition from 2016 press conference

Among the words penned to our media company are:  Chaotic; Uncaring; Defensive; Lacking Empathy; Arrogant and Out of their Depth.

Too often, it is our experience as a media company, that elected government leaders have retreated from the front lines; seemingly hushed and inexplicably quiet.

We have had reports that…

Questions related to Finance, Administration & Business – no reply.

Questions related to Tourism – no reply.

Questions related to Education – no reply.

Questions related to Health – no reply.

Four years ago this was not the case.  As with all opposition parties when they want ‘power’, the PDM could not stop talking.  Now, with there being a dire need for a calm, steady, consistent, responsive voice… there is silence.

Who will make sure this testing center – which has already resubmitted in order to be approved in the latest standards request – is activated? 

The people need this service and the people also want to know what government is specifically doing to expedite the process of giving proper approval. 

Yet, to the questions and pressure and down right pleas for assistance or intervention, there is no reply.

It is a sad and frustrating refrain for this PDM Administration.

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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