Governor responds to ‘Stay-At-Home’ protest; restrictions deemed ‘unconstitutional’ by organizers

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Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero (PNC file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has written an open letter responding to the planned protest against her most recent Stay-At-Home orders.

An online post circulating in Guam social media calls for people to gather in protest on Tuesday, August 25, from 4 pm to 6:30 pm at the Outrigger/DFS Intersection.

The peaceful protest — called “Give Us Back Our Freedoms” — claims that it was organized to speak out against unconstitutional behavior, which is what they claim the most recent added restrictions are.

Thomas Peinhof, owner of ‘Livehouse’ and ‘The Shady Lady’ talks about the protest:
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It’s also meant to send a message to island leaders to “stop killing our economy and to highlight mental and emotional health.”

In her response, the Governor said that while it’s their “right as individuals [to protest], remember that freedom is guaranteed—at least in part—by those who have taken on extraordinary responsibilities in this time of crisis.”

She continues to say, “if you contract COVID-19 at a protest or a party without knowing it, you could spread the same virus that stole seven lives from their loved ones and halted our economy for the second time. By choosing to violate these directives in protest, you could prolong the restrictions we all hate so much.”

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s Open Letter:

It has been said that those who truly value freedom might disagree with what you have to say but will fight to the death for your right to say it.

On Tuesday, August 25, those who disagree with my “Stay at Home Order” and other steps I have taken to slow the spread of  COVID-19 and save lives will gather in protest.

And while that is their right as individuals, remember that freedom is guaranteed—at least in part—by those who have taken on extraordinary responsibilities in this time of crisis. Nurses and paramedics, guardsmen and grocers, cashiers and physicians—they all are at work so you can stay home.

If you contract COVID-19 at a protest or a party without knowing it, you could spread the same virus that stole seven lives from their loved ones and halted our economy for the second time. By choosing to violate these directives in protest, you could prolong the restrictions we all hate so much.

The math doesn’t lie—56% of Guam’s new COVID cases came in the month of August alone. That’s 458 new cases. Our ICU beds are near capacity, and we have lost seven souls to this virus.

Some have said that COVID-19 isn’t as deadly as other viruses, and no one should overreact. This tells me they do not understand what we are facing.

While COVID-19 has proven deadly, its real impact is in making large numbers of people just sick enough to need hospital care in a short period of time—resulting in no available beds for patients who suffer from heart attacks, strokes, kidney failures, or diabetic shock. Put simply, we become so inundated with COVID-19 patients we can treat nothing else.

That is why slowing the rate of COVID-19 transmission is a life or death situation for our people and our economy. Who will shop in our stores or eat in our food courts if COVID-19 infections are greater each day?

I issued a Stay at Home order because it is the quickest, most effective way experts know to slow the spread of this virus and save lives. Without that, our economy will be just as sick as our people.

I understand that some of you, despite knowing all this, will place your desire to protest above all else, and you will gather anyway. I ask that you do it safely. And know that I will use every tool available to me so that no one has to die for your right to do it.

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Mai Habib
Mai Habib is a radio and television broadcaster and journalist originally from Toronto, Canada. She worked at CTV News and CFRA in Canada for over 5-years, where she was a reporter, anchor and show host. After a brief stop in Canadian politics and the non-profit world, she's happy to be back at the news desk on Guam. Mai is a graduate of Ryerson University's journalism program and completed her Master's in International Affairs and Public Policy at Carleton University. She is excited to be reporting on Guam's current affairs, legislature and other topical issues.