Governor defends her administration’s handling of coronavirus crisis

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (PNC file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero is defending her administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

On the radio Thursday morning with K57’s Patti Arroyo, the governor was critical of the media for reports that have questioned the administration’s handling of the ongoing crisis.

“I want the people of Guam to be assured that our administration is very ethical and our administration is very transparent. There is no Governor in the past who has done press conferences every day for hours,” Leon Guerrero said.

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The Governor this morning on K57 took the media to task for what she said was misrepresenting the emergency steps her administration has taken to stem the spread of the disease.

“Our administration is not hiding any money. Our administration has not done anything illegal to purchase services and to purchase the necessary kinds of facilities that we need to protect the lives of our people. We have not done anything that is in violation of any legal authority or any kind of rules and regulations,” the governor said.

In particular, she cited the agreements made to lease local hotels to serve as quarantine facilities.

It wasn’t easy to find hotels to agree and many feared damaging their brand names, the governor said. She emphasized that the process for leasing the facilities was done legally under her emergency powers.

“So as a result of that, I instituted my public health emergency authority as given by law. What I did was purchase those services through my emergency powers which allow me to suspend rules and regulations by law to move forward and expeditiously obtain the services that we need. So, the process of getting these facilities was done legally,” the governor said.

Department of Administration Director Edward Birn acknowledged that the agreements in some cases went unsigned and that to date he has paid out roughly $400,000 to lease the facilities and another $400,000 in invoices are pending. The payments are for leasing all the rooms in the entire hotel, not just for the rooms occupied.

“The deal was for the whole of the facility. First of all, we don’t know from day to day what rooms might be occupied because that depends on the incoming flight. But also, you really can’t have a facility that’s partly quarantine and partly not quarantine,” Birn said.

The Governor added: “We needed to act very quickly. And public health was advising that we create and establish a mandatory facility for quarantine and isolation so we can not have these people mingle out in the community so that we avoid community spread.”