Even as civilian COVID cases rise, military has brought down its numbers considerably

Andersen Air Force Base (PNC file photo)

While Guam’s civilian COVID cases are still skyrocketing, the Department of Defense has managed to bring down its numbers to an almost negligible amount.

And Joint Region Marianas Commander John Menoni says he’s concerned about what’s happening outside the fence…

The JRM Commander says there’s no two ways about it — Guam is a small place and he’s watching the rising civilian numbers closely.

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“Yes, I’m always concerned about that. So, the best way to say this, as we’ve talked about many times, what happens inside the fence lines affects outside the fence lines and vice-versa. It’s not a permanent, impermeable fence line of our installations,” Menoni said.

Menoni says the Department of Defense actually saw its peak within this latest surge on August 29th and that’s been trending downward.

Since about Sept. 19, DoD cases on Guam have been sitting within the 20-to-30 active COVID-positive range and that includes all service branches, dependents, contractors, and the National Guard.

Compare that to Guam’s over 1,000 active cases as of today.

“Seeing these cases outside the fence continue to rise, it does concern me because I don’t want to be back where we were in mid-August. And I certainly don’t want to get to a point where Guam is off-limits for Safe Haven Liberties or exercises or operation because we just can’t control this spread,” Menoni said.

Menoni says Guam has been a jewel in the Pacific for vessels on Safe Haven Liberty with some 20 ships, including 2 aircraft carriers having come here since the island was designated a “safe haven” port.

The rear admiral says he longs for the days of true liberty and rest for incoming crew.

“I think once we get to a point where we’re steady-state with this virus – whether that’s vaccines or whether that’s procedures or immunity — I’m no scientist so I don’t know what that point is. But then, we will see port visits and liberty calls like we have in the past,” Menoni said.

Guam’s bases just recently moved to a less restrictive Health Condition, HPCON B, with additional measures.

“And what that allows us to do is to hold a lot of the things that worked in place, the mitigating measures, such as the physical distance, limiting access or controlling patronage. But then, start to open up certain services much like GovGuam has done, in a very thoughtful, methodical and deliberate manner to again relieve some of that pressure and stress [on the military community],” said Menoni.

The Admiral says his message is clear: this boils down to personal responsibility.

“If people would just wear the masks, observe the 6-feet distance, wash their hands, just practice good hygiene…we’re going to be okay. If they don’t do that, then they’re not part of the team and they’re contributing to the spread and they’re making it worse,” Menoni said.

You can hear the full interview with Rear Admiral John Menoni on the K57 website.


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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.