COVID rumors swirl around ‘a major local retail establishment’

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There was a sign on the main door at Kmart (right), saying the 24-hour retailer would be closing from 2 am to 4 am to sanitize.

Guam social media and WhatsApp chats were blowing up last night with allegations of several businesses having multiple employees test positive for COVID-19.

One of the biggest rumored establishments is Kmart.

There’s no confirmation either way on the rumors surrounding Kmart, either having employees testing positive or that the recent COVID death was an employee of the retailer, which was a message circulating last night across Guam platforms.

Public Health wouldn’t confirm and neither would the company.

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When PNC News showed up at Kmart earlier today to get an answer on the matter, we were told the general manager was currently away and that, we have to call their media spokesperson who’s based in the continental U.S. The number they gave was only an office, that closes on Eastern Standard Time, making it difficult to reach them during our local time.

There was a sign on the main door at Kmart, saying the 24-hour retailer would be closing from 2 am to 4 am to sanitize.

On the air with Newstalk K57 this morning, Public Health spokesperson Janela Carrera said it’s up to businesses to self-disclose.

“What I can say is anytime there’s a positive case at a private establishment or organization, Public Health will offer its assistance or work with that establishment. And at this time, we’re working with multiple establishments, because if there’s a positive case, even if it’s just one case, we work with those organizations or establishments,” Carrera said.

She added: “But for private establishments, that’s their internal policy whether or not they want to do that, you know the Government of Guam, there’s nothing we can do to force them to disclose whether or not they have a positive case.”

In a further statement to PNC News, Carrera confirmed only that they’re working with a “major local retail establishment…” but she would not confirm a name.

And she says more generally, Public Health is working with multiple establishments small and large.

Carrera says when they hear about rumors, they look into them. But they’re not in the business of disclosing NAMES unless they feel like their recommendations are not being followed or if there’s a heightened risk to the public.

“What we usually recommend is that they disinfect and if they need to close the establishment or the affected area for 24 hours, if that’s even necessary. And then reopen the affected area or the whole establishment,” Carrera said.

In addition to calling the Kmart headquarters state-side, PNC News has also emailed to try to get a statement on the allegations. We did not receive a response by news time.

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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.