Governor: Economic relief on the way; disaster declaration for Guam submitted

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The U.S. Senate has passed a massive $2 trillion dollar coronavirus aid package by a unanimous vote of 96 to zero. It is the largest ever aid package in American history.

The measure now goes to the U.S. House which is expected to take up the bill tomorrow.

If they approve, it goes on to President Trump who has already indicated he will sign the relief package.

The governor spoke about the aid package at her daily coronavirus news conference this afternoon and said this is just one part of millions of dollars in relief funding that may soon be available to Guam.

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“The U.S. Senate package includes $111 million in direct assistance to Guam. Our federal contacts say this is in addition to other programs already in the works. And we expect passage out of the Senate and House of Representatives soon. I want to assure you that help is on the way,” the governor said.

The aid package now pending in Congress is just one of a number of financial aid programs that the federal government is making available to the states and territories.

Unlike other relief funds from other federal programs, the $111 million is discretionary funding that the governor can use to apply immediate relief to specific areas that she identifies as most in need of help

“My top two priorities are the health of the people and the health of the economy. But let me be clear I will not sacrifice the health and safety of the community. However, I understand that employees and employers are uncertain about the future. Truthfully, we don’t know when this will end but we are preparing for it,” the governor said.

Ricky Hernandez, GEDA Deputy Administrator, said they are working very closely with Cabinet members and federal counterparts to ensure that those questions are answered and that these federal economic recovery initiatives are properly implemented to the benefit of the business community and the individuals and the workforce that they employ.

News of the federal relief packages comes as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Guam has reached 41, 37 confirmed by Guam Public Health and four sailors off the USS Roosevelt now at Naval Hospital Guam.

Linda DeNorcey, Public Health Director, said: “The medical status of these patients, 25 are stable, 11 are hospitalized and the breakdown of those 11, we have 8 in the in-patient facility at GMH. One is currently in the ICU. Two are at the SNU and one, of course, has died.”

In addition, the Governor said she has also submitted a request for a presidential disaster declaration for Guam. If approved, it would authorize President Trump to provide additional financial assistance to Guam.

She has also asked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide disaster assistance for individuals and families.

“My message to the people of Guam is simple. Though we must remain physically distant, we are closer than we have ever been before. Look after yourselves, look after your family, look after your manåmko,” the governor said.

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