Expanded COVID-19 testing campaign to kick off in Dededo Saturday

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero on Tuesday morning announced that all but one of the requirements needed to lift social distancing restrictions have been met.

The missing requirement not yet reached is testing capacity.

The effort to reach that goal gets underway Saturday when the expanded testing campaign kicks off in Dededo.

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258 tests a day — that, said the governor, is the daily testing level her advisors have set before Guam’s social distancing restrictions can begin to be lifted

“Over the next few weeks and if we are at full testing capacity, utilizing FDA-approved machines and test kits, we expect to begin testing 258 individuals per day. This level of testing is one of the conditions needed to safely begin to lift some of our current restrictions,” the governor said.

The means to reach that goal is the expanded testing program that begins Saturday from 9 am until noon in Astumbo, Dededo. The exact location in Astumbo has not yet been named.

“So this Saturday, there will be a pilot project to look at the process that we are going to be using and the procedures so that we can make any kind of improvements before we actually open it up,” the governor said.

Public Health Director Linda DeNorcey said the planning committee is working out the details of the testing program.

“Why that area in particular? Because a lot of them don’t have access to care, and some of them also have barriers to care i.e. they just don’t have transportation, or they have cultural barriers or there could also be a case where they have illnesses and they just don’t see medical care due to lack of insurance,” DeNorcey said.

State Surgeon and chief medical advisor Dr. Michael Cruz said the earlier peak projection of mid-May to the first week in June has been revised as a result of the case data and hospitalizations over the past two months and the mitigation efforts that have been implemented to combat the disease.

“And by doing this, the Kinsey model actually showed almost a 60 percent decrease in the spread rate which pushes the curve or flats it out significantly so that any peak that we may have will actually happen in the fall. Towards September or October time-frame,” Dr. Cruz said.

The other two key requirements before restrictions can be lifted are sufficient bed capacity and a 14-day period of low to no positive cases of COVID-19.

“At the peak, we would need about a 40-bed capacity, and we can meet that now. As far as the 14 days, if we start looking at April 10th or 11th where we are seeing viral mostly positive cases then maybe one or two, we can say that for the 14 days we have sustained that slow spread of infection.”

Phase One of the recovery plan will be announced Friday.