Governor announces tough new social distancing measures to avoid rising death toll projections


Faced with a stark projection of the number of possible COVID-19 dead on Guam without stricter social distancing mandates, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero Friday announced that she will order tough new restrictions to keep island residents at home and off the roads.

The new restrictions will be announced on Sunday and take effect on Tuesday, said the Governor.

The new orders will include travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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During Friday’s online press conference, Dr. Felix Cabrera, of the governor’s physicians advisory group, said: “Without implementing and enforcing much more strict compliance with the governor’s social distancing and stay at home orders … the models clearly show Guam suffering through the greatest casualties since World War II.”

On the current trajectory, with the social distance mandates now in place, Dr. Cabrera said Guam is headed for as many as 3,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the next five months. If tough new measures are implemented, Cabrera said that may drop to roughly 700 deaths over the same time period.

“What you’re seeing here if you read word-for-word –’Hospital beds needed at peak is 6,000 which will occur around this point here which is the first week of June. But total deaths after 5 months will be about 3,000,” Dr. Cabrera said.

He added: “But what you’re seeing here on the screen was the summary. This was a simplified matter here that the numbers you’re seeing in the green a 50% decrease that you could see a total death decrease after 5 months down to 700 or so.”

Those sobering numbers have prompted the governor to announce that she will soon be implementing tough new restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“While we are working out the details, vehicles on Guam’s roadways will be required to display signs showing the essential function that necessitates their presence on the road. Furthermore, social gathering of any type, whether public or private, will be prohibited. To break the chain of transmission, your social interactions must be limited to those you are currently isolated with,” the governor said.

She added that the Guam Police Department will enforce the travel restrictions on the roadways. Where those checkpoints will be, what specific destinations count as essential, and whether there will be any fines for violators are details yet to be worked out, said the governor.

“I know that many of you may be frightened by what you have heard today. But that fear must give way to action. Each of us has the power to save lives and make this model wrong. We have two choices. We can act now and flatten the curve or these predictions will become our reality,” the governor said.