California COVID variant detected in Guam

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The California COVID-19 variant was detected among the samples sent off-island by the Department of Public Health and Social Services for variant testing.

In a news conference, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and her medical team announced that seven of the samples sent to the US Centers for Disease Control tested positive for the California variant of the coronavirus, which is more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain.

In total, Public Health provided CDC with 49 samples collected from COVID-positive cases on Guam.

“We received the results from 26 of the 49 samples. And here’s what we know, seven of these samples have the California variants that is known to be 20% more transmissible. Of these seven, four came from samples within the community. These four individuals have no known travel history. The remaining three samples came from persons who have tested at our quarantine facility,” Leon Guerrero said.

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The governor stressed that the far worse Brazil, UK, and South Africa variants have not been detected on Guam.

She also pointed out that the samples sent out to the CDC were from January, which means that even with the California variant in our community, Guam’s COVID numbers continue to be down.

“As a result, we will continue to stay the course. Today marks day 29 in PCOR-3 and most all businesses have been operational with moderate restrictions. Today, we have only one COVID-19 in our hospital. And today, our COVID area risk score remained at a low of 0.1,” Leon Guerrero said.

According to the governor, her administration also continues to be committed to its “Path to Half” initiative which calls for the reopening of Guam to travelers again if half of the island’s population, about 62,500, gets vaccinated.

“By May 1, 2021, we will reopen to our travelers, again. Passengers with a negative PCR COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to arrival will be exempt from quarantine. Again, the change in quarantine protocol will only happen if we achieve the path to half,” Leon Guerrero said.

To date, the governor says Guam already has 30,735 people who have been fully vaccinated. As Public Health continues to lower the vaccination eligibility, the governor said she expects more people to get shots. Effective last Thursday, individuals 40 years and older became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

To ensure that more people get vaccinated, the governor said she will be allowing administrative leave for GovGuam employees to get vaccinated. She is also encouraging the private sector to give their employees ample time to get vaccinated.

“We have to continue what we know works for us. And that is wearing a mask, washing our hands, and watching our distance. Paired with regular community testing, and our aggressive vaccination efforts. We are well on our way towards achieving herd immunity,” the governor said.

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