70-year-old man dead on arrival at GMH; tests positive for COVID-19

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(PNC file photo)

As first reported by PNC News, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has confirmed that a 70-year-old man arrived at GMH early this morning, Thursday, and was declared Dead On Arrival (DOA). This will be recorded as Guam’s sixth mortality related to COVID-19 by the Joint Information Center.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero made the announcement about the death at her 1:30 pm news conference.

“It has been 129 days since I made my last announcement. And I have to wonder as Governor, as a community, and as a Government, have we done enough to prevent lives from death,” said Leon Guerrero.

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The Governor confirmed that the man had multiple co-morbidities, meaning other health conditions.

The emergency room doctor attending to the patient concluded that the primary cause of death was cardiac arrest.

Health officials swabbed the man posthumously and he tested positive for COVID-19 through the Abbott-ID testing machine stationed at GMH. Public Health said it was finalizing the funeral guidance for how to properly bury the body, according to the latest scientific data on the disease.

This was not a known COVID-positive case, which is particularly worrisome to the Administration and Public Health.

“People got relaxed, people didn’t wear their masks and it’s because they thought ‘oh, we’re over it’…I don’t think we’ll ever be over it. And we’re going to need to continue wearing our masks and social distancing…into, I don’t know, next year! In the U.S. they’re talking about this being our reality for the next 2-3 years,” said the Governor.

The man is said to be survived by his wife; it is unclear if plans are in place to have her tested.

Lillian Perez-Posadas, the GMH Administrator, said at the Governor’s news conference that his family found him at home and got him to the hospital by ambulance. By the time he arrived at the hospital, he was pulseless and breathless, according to Perez-Posadas.

The Governor said she’s concerned with the hospitalization numbers of late and is working to expand the island’s capacity:

“We are preparing for the worst. We are preparing for more increases. And, if that happens, it’s very unfortunate but we will deal with it and we will get over it. But it’s more the anxiety, the nervousness, the being very scared that we’ll see more deaths.”

Perez-Posadas added that GMH is working to free up space for the expected surge in cases.

“So we have an additional 6 ICU beds [in that unit] and we’re considering that we will then partition that area so that the non-COVID patients who are in ICU will not be mixed with the COVID patients in the ICU,” said the GMH administrator.

She added that they’re working to get their 3rd-floor Telemetry Unit ready for excess COVID patients as well.

The military has additionally made it clear that they’re ready to step in with their field hospital should GovGuam ask. However, Guam Homeland Security confirmed with PNC News that there could be a cost-sharing factor.

JRM Rear Admiral John Menoni, live with K57 radio, said the equipment is on-island to rebuild the hospital and there are medical staff on ready-to-deploy orders should they need to be called onto Guam.

With the shocking news of another death, the Governor says there’s a strong possibility she’s extending her PCOR 1 order, and she may tighten the restrictions as well.

“If I have to do roadblocks again, I am going to do the roadblocks again! And, I don’t really particularly care that people will be upset but if my doing we can save lives then that’s what’s going to happen. I hope to not get there.”

As of this morning (Thursday), GMH had 13 hospitalized patients admitted for COVID-treatment.

Two people were discharged late Wednesday but one more was admitted overnight.

One person from the ICU (Care 2 Ward) was downgraded and moved to the stable-patient area, known as Care 3. Meantime, one person from Care 3 was upgraded to the ICU Care 2 facility.

There are currently four ICU patients, three of whom are on ventilators and one on a High-Flow Nasal Cannula, which is a breathing tube placed at the entrance of the nose for supplemental oxygen. It guarantees 100 percent 02, which is heated and humidified, according to Perez-Posadas.

GMH is equipped with nearly 80 ventilators.

In her plea to the community, the Governor asked, “before you go out, before you see friends, before you do any non-essential activities, ask yourself, how much more are you willing to sacrifice?”

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Mai Habib
Mai Habib is a radio and television broadcaster and journalist originally from Toronto, Canada. She worked at CTV News and CFRA in Canada for over 5-years, where she was a reporter, anchor and show host. After a brief stop in Canadian politics and the non-profit world, she's happy to be back at the news desk on Guam. Mai is a graduate of Ryerson University's journalism program and completed her Master's in International Affairs and Public Policy at Carleton University. She is excited to be reporting on Guam's current affairs, legislature and other topical issues.