105 new cases of COVID-19; all non-essential businesses closed

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero delivers a special video address, announcing a further tightening of COVID-19 measures.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services has confirmed 105 new cases of COVID-19, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero announced in a special video address this evening.

This, by far, represents the largest number of confirmed cases in a day since the start of the pandemic.

In her video address, the governor pointed out that 28% of the island’s total confirmed cases were recorded this past couple of weeks alone.

“I must remind the public that this pandemic will either accelerate beyond the capacity of our healthcare system or decrease to containable levels—we are dangerously close to the former. To prevent this from becoming our future, even stronger measures need to be taken,” Leon Guerrero said.

For this reason, the governor said that effective noon tomorrow, August 21, through an executive order, all businesses will be closed with the exception of grocery stores, healthcare operations, including pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, hardware stores, and those operations critical to health, shelter, and the preservation of life.

“Statistically speaking, we can anticipate that 20% of these cases will end up in the hospital, which is already reaching its capacity. Six times I have had to deliver the gravest announcement a governor can make. Along with this significant increase in confirmed cases, this most recent tragedy indicates that we cannot decrease our vigilance, we cannot become comfortable, and we cannot surrender to complacency. We are not invincible. No matter how young, healthy, and active you are, you are still at risk—and you are putting others at risk too,” Leon Guerrero said.

She added: “It is my hope that this escalation will last only a week—just long enough to flatten our rising curve. To assuage any fears you may have because of this order, I will be establishing a hotline that will answer your questions, which we will announce tomorrow,” the governor said.

Strong possibility of extension

Earlier today, during her online news conference, Leon Guerrero said there’s a strong possibility that PCOR1 can be extended beyond 2 weeks. It depends on the numbers. “I’m hoping this weekend, we’ll see numbers decrease,” the governor said.

She added that if there is a need to tighten restrictions, she will do so, even the controversial roadblocks and checkpoints if need be. “I don’t care if they dislike me for that, but we need to do that for our people,” the governor said.

Leon Guerrero added that one of her concerns is if the Guam Memorial Hospital reaches its capacity if COVID-19 cases continue to increase.

“My concern is what we’re seeing in the hospital. We’re preparing for the worst. There are more people in the intensive care unit, with two or three needing ventilators They are not old people but young people, they’re in their 30s,” the governor said.

Public Health Acting Director Art San Agustin, who was also in the news conference, said 1500 samples still need to be sampled. DPHSS has lately not been able to turn in test results in a regular and timely manner because of the surge in people wanting to be tested.

Vocal minority

During her video address, the governor also took a swipe at her critics.

“In any long struggle, there are good days and there are bad—today is not easy. While there may be a vocal minority advocating against these measures, I know the people of Guam are not prepared to take even greater risk,” Leon Guerrero said.

Based on what is known about COVID-19 and to prevent the collapse of the island’s healthcare system, the governor said she needs to take drastic steps immediately.

“I know this is extremely difficult, but the good of all depends on the sacrifices of many. More than ever before, we need unity, hope, compassion, and the political will to see this crisis through. To the people of Guam, we know the deep well of strength that has brought us through every storm of man and nature. We will survive this too. Last, I am asking all of you to stay home unless you have no other choice. If we can do this for a short time, I believe we will be in a better place,” Leon Guerrero said.

She added: “In the beginning of this pandemic, you showed your strength, your courage, and your determination in making sure this virus does not win. And I know we can do it again. We mourn but we do not surrender. We fear but we will not yield. We worry but we know that we can work our way through the dark—and into the light.”