Late this afternoon, the Governor’s Office announced two possible cases were being evaluated for COVID-19.
According to a joint release, the two individuals do not meet the full criteria for a person under investigation (PUI) as determined by the Hawaii State Laboratories Division (HSLD).
But out of an abundance of caution, the Department of Public Health and Social Services collaborated with local health care providers to arrange testing for both cases for COVID-19, states the news release.
Of the two cases, one patient was initially evaluated at Guam Regional Medical City and then admitted to the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority for observation and isolation.
After an assessment conducted by DPHSS officials, the second case is being monitored in home isolation.
Earlier, GRMC confirmed with PNC that there is a Person Under Investigation for COVID-19 on Guam.
Dr. Mike Cruz, GRMC CEO, said a sample was taken from the patient and will be sent to Hawaii for testing. The results are expected within 48 hours.
Cruz says GRMC put the patient in isolation Tuesday night where the patient remained until DPHSS staff got there today.
Until there is a confirmation on the results of the sample, the hospital will be taking an abundance of caution, however, it will not be shut down, according to Cruz.
Later, in a release, the hospital said it has taken all necessary measures to protect the community while the PUI was in the hospital. GRMC is working directly with the CDC and the Department of Public Health and Social Services which are the leads in Guam’s COVID-19 response.
The release went on to say that, “GRMC will continue to abide by the CDC guidelines for the care of suspected COVID-19 cases, including isolation of any suspected patient, prior to transfer to GMH.”
GRMC said the PUI will be transferred to Guam Memorial Hospital where the patient will be further isolated until the test results come back.
Citing patient confidentiality, Lillian Perez Posadas, the GMH administrator, told PNC that she could not confirm if the patient had yet arrived at their hospital. However, she assured that the hospital has procedures in place.
“You know, our plan … and we’ve been stressing it … we’ve been having meetings with the Governor, with Homeland Security, with Public Health, we just want to make sure that we isolate if we do get an individual who is a PUI, or suspected PUI, or even if the individual is a confirmed COVID case. Our job and our responsibility are to contain and to isolate the individual so we minimize as much as possible the spread of the disease,” Posadas said.
Posadas added that GMH doctors and nurses have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to guard against the virus and that the hospital can accommodate some isolation needs but would be stretched if many COVID-19 cases arise.
“This hospital [GMH], we have 14 isolation rooms in this facility, we have four up at SNF. But you know, of the 14, oftentimes we have patients already in those. So we can’t depend on having those 14 rooms for isolation,” she said.
In their release this afternoon, GRMC reiterated that although there’s a PUI case, it is not a confirmed case and there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Guam.
“Again, we strongly urge the public not to spread messages that GRMC has a confirmed COVID-19 case. There are currently no confirmed COVID-19 cases on Guam. Should this change, the public will be notified. In the meantime, we urge you to continue practicing the best safety methods to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19, which is to wash your hands regularly with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds and avoid touching your face as much as possible, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and properly cover your face if you cough or sneeze by doing it into a tissue or the crook of your elbow,” GRMC stated.
Guam Public Health already received its coronavirus testing kits on Tuesday. However, the kits have not been calibrated or checked for efficacy, to ensure the accuracy of their results. Public Health officials say local testing for COVID-19 should begin closer to the end of the month.
The governor’s office confirmed with PNC News that they are working on how to move forward with the current PUI case.
At the Legislature Wednesday evening, under questioning by Vice Speaker Telena Nelson, Guam Fire Department Chief Daniel Stone said: “There have actually been three PUI instances today.”
“There was one patient from GRMC transferred to GMH,” said the Chief. “There was a second patient that was actually a 911 call in the community. And then the third patient I believe was actually at one of the clinics and was identified there.”
However the Governor’s press secretary Krystal Paco San Agustin said “there remain only two cases under evaluation.”
She said the person transported to GMH by GFD had symptoms “purportedly related to Covid-19” but they were “resolved.” Chief Stone she said had not yet been briefed.
Stone’s remarks were made while lawmakers were sitting in ‘The Committee of the Whole’ taking testimony on Bill 308-35, a measure that would create an Emergency Pandemic Fund.
READ the joint release from GovGuam in FULL below:
Joint News Release
March 11, 2020
5:15 p.m. (ChST)
Guam Collaborates on Response to Possible Cases of COVID-19
The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) continues to work with local and federal partners to address the threat of the virus that causes COVID-19. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Guam. Guam continues to assess the situation as it evolves. With any change in status, anticipate timely notification.
Government of Guam Officials Aware of Possible Cases for COVID-19 DPHSS officials were notified of two possible cases now being evaluated for COVID-19 illness.
These individuals do not meet the full criteria for a person under investigation (PUI) as determined by the Hawaii State Laboratories Division (HSLD).
Out of an abundance of caution, Guam DPHSS has collaborated with the local health care providers to arrange testing for both cases for COVID-19. Of the two cases, one patient was initially evaluated at GRMC and then admitted to the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority for observation and isolation. After an assessment conducted by DPHSS officials, the second case is being monitored in home isolation.
As lab testing becomes more available across the U.S. mainland and territories, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave authority to states and territories to develop their own testing criteria. In expectation of Guam Public Health Lab commencing testing, Guam DPHSS is developing the territorial testing criteria in collaboration with an advisory council made-up of physician representatives from Guam’s health care facilities and medical associations. DPHSS received the COVID-19 test kits from CDC on March 10, 2020, and is currently conducting the in-house validation required by regulation as quickly as possible.
Officials Track Cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines
On Sunday, the Philippines declared a health emergency after more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed. According to the U.S. State Department, a Level 2 advisory for travel to the Philippines remains in place. Travelers are advised to exercise increased caution.
Guidance to Prepare Your Household for Coronavirus Disease 2019 DPHSS recommends community actions designed to help keep people healthy, reduce exposures to COVID-19, and slow the spread of the disease.
● Create a household plan of action to help protect your health and the health of those you care about in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19. Plan ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications.
● Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy. Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use, if possible. Plan to clean these rooms, as needed, when someone is sick.
● Be prepared if your child’s school or childcare facility is temporarily dismissed. Learn
about the emergency operations plan at your child’s school or childcare facility.
● Plan for potential changes at your workplace. Learn about your employer’s emergency operations plan. Discuss sick-leave policies and telework options for workers who are sick or who need to stay home to care for sick household members.
Stay Up to with Date with Reputable Sources
It is important to note that the situation can change quickly. The community is reminded to only share official notices and visit the following links for the most up-to-date information:
● CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
● DPHSS website: http://dphss.guam.gov/2019-novel-coronavirus-2019-n-cov/
● GHS/OCD website: https://ghs.guam.gov/coronavirus as Novel-Coronavirus.aspx
For m ore information, contact DPHSS Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., at (671) 735-7154.
READ the news release from GRMC in FULL below:
(For Immediate Release)
No Confirmed COVID-19 Cases at GRMC – Suspected PUI currently isolated and being tested
(Wednesday, March 11, 2020; Dededo, Guam) Guam Regional Medical City (GRMC) would like to assure the community that as of this time, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) at our hospital. However, there is currently a single patient under investigation (PUI) who has been safely isolated at GRMC since last night.
Samples have been taken from the PUI and sent to Hawaii for testing. The PUI will be transferred to Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH) who will further isolate the patient until the testing results arrive.
GRMC has taken all necessary measures to protect the community while in our hospital and is working directly with the CDC and DPHSS, who are the leads in Guam’s COVID-19 response. GRMC will continue to abide by the CDC guidelines for care of suspected COVID-19 cases, including isolation of any suspected patient prior to transfer to GMH.
Again, we strongly urge the public not to spread messages that GRMC has a confirmed COVID-19 case.
There are currently no confirmed COVID-19 cases on Guam. Should this change, the public will be notified.
In the meantime, we urge you to continue practicing the best safety methods to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19, which is to wash your hands regularly with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds and avoid touching your face as much as possible, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and properly cover your face if you cough or sneeze by doing it into a tissue or the crook of your elbow.
READ the release from Guam Public Health in FULL below:
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES
DIPATTAMENTON SALUT PUPBLEKO YAN SETBISION SUSIAT
March 11, 2020
PRESS RELEASE NO.: 2020 -058
No Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 While Influenza-Like Illness and Pneumonia Cases Have Decreased Since Late 2019
The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) continues to work with local and federal partners to address the potential threat of the virus that causes COVID-19. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Guam. Guam continues to assess the situation as it evolves. With any change in status, anticipate timely notification.
DPHSS monitors influenza-like illness (ILI) and other syndromes, including pneumonia, on a weekly basis using emergency room data. Syndromic surveillance for ILI can be an early warning system for potential outbreaks of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. Cases of influenza-like illness at the Guam Memorial Hospital’s emergency room, Guam’s current syndromic surveillance site, peaked at the end of November 2019 at 60-70 cases per week and has decreased to 20-30 cases per week in 2020. This pattern is also observed in all of the morbidity reports received from other hospitals and health care clinics.
It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed. While flu and COVID-19 may have similar symptoms, allowing DPHSS to monitor COVID-19 using ILI surveillance, having a fever and cough does not necessarily mean that you have COVID-19. Currently, the Guam Public Health Lab can test for COVID-19 at the Hawaii State Laboratories Division and Guam is following their criteria for a PUI. Guam has sent out a physicians’ alert to inform health care providers of the new criteria for a PUI. If you are ill and experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or flu or a cold, call your health care provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the health care provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.
Everyone in our community can take steps now to prepare for this emerging public health threat by doing everyday preventative measures and prevent the spread of all respiratory illnesses:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. However, if soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Practice proper cough etiquette – cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces.
*Stay home when you are sick – do not go to work or school.
LINDA UNPINGCO DENORCEY, MPH