First COVID-19 death on Guam

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(Photo courtesy CDC)

Guam has recorded its first COVID-19 death, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The Governor’s medical adviser and State Surgeon Dr. Mike Cruz made the announcement during a news conference Sunday morning saying: “As a solider and a surgeon I can tell you the toughest part of the job is losing somebody under your care. Today it was my duty to report to Governor Lou Leon Guerrero of our first COVID-19 related death at zero-one-thirty this morning.”

Dr. Cruz was joined by Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and the COVID-19 Medical Director, Dr. Joleen Aguon.

A 68 year old woman

Dr. Aguon said the person who died was a 68-year-old woman “who had multiple co-morbidity.” That means she had a number of conditions including, end stage renal disease requiring hemodialysis, hyper tension and diabetes.

She was brought to GMH on March 14 in a personal vehicle, said Dr. Aguon. She was then admitted on March 15.

“She came in with fever, chills and shortness of breath,” said. Dr. Aguon. “She had no travel history; however, she did have contact with a traveler.”

Dr. Aguon said the woman and family “made the decision not to undergo any extreme life-saving measures” and “over the past 36-hours she was placed in comfort care and she passed this morning at 01:30 at GMH.”

By law, the woman has to be buried or cremated within 24 hours, said the Governor. Arrangements are being made now she said.

The Governor’s Press Secretary, Krystal Paco-San Agustin later said in a text message after the news conference that the woman who died was among the “first three confirmed cases” and she was “admitted last Sunday” (March 15).

The 14 remaining confirmed COVID-19 cases are “in stable” condition, said GMH Administrator Lillian Perez-Posadas during the news conference.

The news conference was held at the Guam Homeland Security-Office of Civil Defense bunker next to Government House in Agana Heights.

It was conducted via a remote conferencing service known as ZOOM and aired over the internet.

Reporters did not attend in person.

READ the release from the Joint Information Center in FULL below:

Joint Information Center – JIC Release No. 21
March 22, 2020, 11:40 a.m. (ChST)

First COVID-19 Related Fatality on Guam

On Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 1:30 a.m. (ChST), Guam’s first COVID-19 related fatality occurred at the Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH). The patient was originally admitted to GMH on Sunday, March 15, 2020 and remained in isolation throughout the week. The patient was among one of Guam’s initial COVID-19 patients.

The patient was 68-years-old with underlying health issues, which were compounded with COVID-19. The patient had no recent travel history before contracting the virus but initial investigations indicated the patient may have contracted it from someone who did.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and her chief medical advisors, Dr. Mike Cruz and Dr. Joleen Aguon, urge everyone to stay home, exercise good hygiene, wash your hands, and practice social distancing by maintaining a physical distance of six feet between yourselves and others. Though these measures are not dramatic, they are the most effective things we can do to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Governor Leon Guerrero also met with her Physicians Advisory Group, a group of bipartisan community physicians committed to stopping the spread of COVID-19 through coordination and expert advice.

DPHSS, along with health care providers, various Government of Guam agencies, and our military counterparts are working tirelessly to work toward containment of the spread of the virus. Currently, the hospital staff that cared for the patient, and any COVID-19 confirmed patients, are on a strict monitoring system, checking in regularly with updates regarding any signs or symptoms. Health officials will continue to screen all who have come in contact with COVID-19 confirmed patients.

Medical Triage Hotline Numbers for COVID-19
If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please call your healthcare provider. If a patient does not have a regular health care provider, they can call any of the Community Health Centers or the DPHSS Medical Triage Hotline Phone Numbers listed below to report symptoms and obtain guidance from clinicians:

  • (671) 480-7859

  • (671) 480-6760/3

  • (671) 480-7883

  • (671) 687-6170 (ADA Dedicated Number)

These numbers are operational daily, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and are limited to medical-related inquiries only.

For media inquiries, contact the Joint Information Center at (671) 478-0208/09/10 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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