COVID positives on the rise: 82 cases locally since July 30; bases reinstate mask

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There has been a marked increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases on island, coming from both the civilian and military sectors.

In the local population of Guam, 82 have already tested positive from July 30 to Aug. 3.

The CAR score, which previously had been hovering in the 1.5 and below level, has spiked up, with the latest CAR score reaching 3.0.

According to the latest JIC report, 30 new cases of COVID-19 were identified out of 669 tests performed on Aug. 3, and out of that six cases were identified through contact tracing.

To date, there have been a total of 8,623 officially reported cases of COVID-19 with 143 deaths, 119 cases in active isolation, and 8,361 not in active isolation.

Dr. Hoa Nguyen, the head of the governor’s Physicians Advisory Group, had said the spike in positive cases was to be expected after the lifting of restrictions last Aug. 1

He also said that only about 34% of children from the age of 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated, which means that COVID infections in this age group can be spread in the family setting or when school reopens.

On the military side, Chima Mbakwem of the Department of Public Health and Social Services, said there have been 54 positive COVID-19 cases for the past two weeks. Of these cases, there were no reports of hospitalization and Naval Hospital reported no COVID-19 patients.

“I just want to clear the air that the 54 was for the past two weeks. So we cannot actually pinpoint it as a one-time cluster,” Mbakwem said during the Recovery Task Force meeting held Wednesday.

Nevertheless, the military is clearly taking the increase in positive cases seriously.

In a news release Wednesday evening, Joint Region Marianas (JRM) announced that it has updated its mask policy on all military installations in Guam following an increase in COVID-19 positive cases among military members, concurrent with an increased operational tempo and influx of temporarily assigned personnel.

In order to preserve force health protection and community public health, JRM ordered that all personnel on DoD installations are again required to wear a face. Previously, the face mask requirement was lifted inside the military bases.

With the updated order, face masks are required again among the military in congregate settings, whether indoor or outdoor and regardless of vaccination or immunization.

JRM stated this policy is applicable to all military personnel stationed, assigned to temporary duty, or assigned to a visiting unit temporarily located on Guam, and to civilian dependents, contractors, and DoD civilian employees and visitors to DoD installations on Guam.

JRM stressed that it will continue to take prudent measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 and will vigorously assess COVID-19 policies to ensure the protection of military personnel and the local community while maintaining mission readiness.

Dr. Michael W. Cruz, the chief medical adviser to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, acknowledged that there has been a marked rise in COVID-19 positive cases on island.

But he said the more important statistic to watch out for was the number of hospitalizations. Currently, there are only three COVID-19 hospitalizations, which Cruz said is still not alarming.

“We had a series of five or six days without any hospitalizations at all. We currently have three hospitalized. Now that, for me, is the most important thing … that our hospitals are not overwhelmed,” Cruz said during the Recovery Task Force meeting.

But Cruz said that unvaccinated residents should get themselves vaccinated as soon as possible so that even if they catch the COVID-19 virus, they will not be hospitalized.

Public Health’s Mbakwem also welcomed the military’s decision to reinstate the face mask requirement, saying that everyone on Guam should continue to wear masks.

He stressed that vaccinated people without masks can still catch the virus because vaccination is not a cure and does not necessarily prevent the transmission of the virus.

Guam Recovery Task Force Chairman Sam Shinohara also said that all in all, Guam remains a safe destination compared to other places where the virus is still surging uncontrollably.

He said that this is the message that should be communicated to Guam’s tourism markets to ensure that Guam’s tourism recovery continues.

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