Guam hotel may be designated an isolation center for COVID-19 patients

Governor's Chief of Staff Tony Babauta

The Governor’s office is working to repurpose one of the current “government facilities” being used to quarantine incoming passengers, into an isolation center for COVID-19 patients on Guam.

“We’re working to make sure that if there’s a surge [in cases], we’re prepared for the surge,” said Tony Babauta, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, in an interview with K57’s Patti Arroyo Tuesday.

He said teams are working at “a great speed to catch up with the prevalence of COVID-19 and its community spread.”

Although he did not specify it would be a hotel, the government has so far been using four hotels in Tamuning as passenger-quarantine facilities.

Babauta said they’re working to clean out and clear out one of the “facilities” for the possible transfer of positive cases.

He went on to explain that the facility will be used for any coronavirus patient whose home doesn’t meet specific isolation criteria.

In order for home-isolation to work, patients need to have viable living situations and not share the space with anyone highly-vulnerable to the disease.

“For those people who have tested positive and are currently in home isolation, the home has gone through an inspection by Public Health and the CDC, to ensure that there’s enough separation that can occur between the person who’s positive, and the rest of the family,” said Babauta.

“There are benchmarks that Public Health has to determine are present in the home — there’s a separate room, a separate bathroom so that the person can completely isolate themselves.”

According to the Governor’s top staff member, there is an unwritten honor system for patients to abide by their home-isolation orders.

“In terms of isolating themselves, on some level, we need to trust that this is an issue that people are taking seriously. It’s something the government has of course been trying to message since Day One,” said Babauta.

“I think in large measure, everyone is taking the issue seriously. Those who would take it more seriously are those coming into direct contact with COVID-19, or have a loved one or family member who has tested positive.”

Babauta went on to say, “Yes, there’s a semblance of honor that you’re protecting the family from the disease, but also supporting that family member who’s positive, so that they can survive the virus.”

There’s no timeline on when the facility, very likely a Tumon hotel, will be ready to receive COVID-positive patients.

Meantime, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero told K57’s Patti Arroyo Tuesday, the Public Health Lab runs tests on specimens every morning with results released between 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. the same day.

The Governor confirmed as of Tuesday morning, the lab was caught up with testing.