Governor declares public health emergency; orders closure of senior centers

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Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has placed Guam into a State of Public Health Emergency in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The governor announced the emergency declaration in a special COVID 19 address on Saturday. She ordered, among other restrictions, the cancellation of all government travel in the executive branch.

“And, I ask that our sister branches follow suit. If a government employee does travel on personal leave, I’ve asked all directors to insist that each employee self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. I urge everyone to do the same,” Leon Guerrero said.

Public Health Emergency restrictions include:

*The cancellation of all government travel in the executive branch and a request to the Legislative and Judiciary branches to do the same

*The closure of all public senior centers by close of business Wednesday, March 18 at 5 p.m.

*Banning all social events for 100 people or more effective Wednesday, March 18 at 5 p.m.

*Hiring more Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Certified Nurse Aides to increase screening efforts.

These mandates will remain in place until further notice

While 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild or show no symptoms at all, the governor pointed out that the island’s manåmko’ and sick are more vulnerable than others.

Because of this, the governor has also ordered the closure of all public senior centers by close of business Wednesday.

“If you are hosting a social event for 100 people or more, that event will also be canceled, effective Wednesday at 5 p.m. These mandates will remain in place as necessary. I am your Governor, but I am also a mother, a grandmother, and a nurse. And there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to protect this island and our families,” the governor said.

In addition, the governor also ordered the hiring of Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Certified Nurse Aides to help in screening efforts. Many of them are already on the job, operating thermal scanners, and screening tourists throughout the airport.

Quarantine areas have been designated at the airport since the start of the outbreak and while self-quarantine is the recommended method, the governor said other contingencies for community quarantine are already in place.

“As COVID-19 moves throughout the world, other facts become more evident. The first is that government alone cannot contain this virus. Countries that lessened the impact of this pandemic implemented additional social distancing early. That means we need your help.
If you fall into this group, stay home. Again, if you feel sick, regardless of age, don’t risk infection or pass a potential infection to others,” the governor said.

“For this reason, I am asking all employers to allow those with flu-like symptoms to stay at, or work from home without penalty for at least 14 days,” she added.

The governor concluded her special address with this statement: “Let’s not surrender to fear and panic. Let’s draw from the deep well of hope and strength that has defined our people for generations. Be calm, stay informed, do your part, and trust that experts are working around the clock to protect us. Together, this is how we will keep Guam safe.”

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