Doctor: CDC ‘very high’ risk rating for Guam doesn’t reflect reality

The Centers for Disease Control updated Guam's COVID-19 travel risk to level 4. This means the CDC has categorized Guam's travel risk as "very high." (PNC file photo)

The Centers for Disease Control raised Guam’s level of travel risk even though local data tells a different story.

The Centers for Disease Control updated Guam’s COVID-19 travel risk to level 4. This means the CDC has categorized Guam’s travel risk as “very high.”

That’s the very top of the CDC’s travel risk scale. Previously, Guam was at level 3 or “high” risk.

Guam Public Health’s data, however, shows that Guam is doing well, with a low number of positive cases, a low number of hospitalizations, and a strong turnout for vaccination efforts.

The Governor’s Physicians Advisory Group chairperson Dr. Hoa Nguyen spoke with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo about how the CDC calculates travel risk.

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He said that the CDC counts the number of positive cases in the past 28 days.
It also compares that to the number of tests run.

However, Dr. Nguyen said that formula doesn’t necessarily reflect the situation locally.

“The data will keep changing as I’ve said in the past. We’re going to fluctuate anywhere from two to four as the positivity rates in the cases go up in the past 28 days. So you’re going to see that up and down, probably in the next year or so,” Dr. Nguyen said.

He added: “The only thing that we need to be concerned about is the number of admissions in the hospital. Our medical care is very fragile in the hospitals both GMH and GRMC.”

Dr. Nguyen said that the goal on Guam is to keep hospitalizations across GMH and GRMC below 10.

He said that so far, the COVID patients admitted to the island’s hospitals weren’t vaccinated.

He also said that even as things get better on island, it’s important to continue pushing the community to get vaccinated and, for the time being, wear masks.

This is especially true as the island gets ready to reopen for tourism.

“I know optics-wise, it looks bad, especially for the countries around us — like Japan, Taiwan, and Korea — that we try to entice them to come to Guam for tourism. The optics look bad, but overall, Guam is still a lot safer than most parts of the United States,” Dr. Nguyen emphasized.