Guam secures $32 million public health laboratory

Department of Public Health and Social Services (PNC file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has secured $32 million from the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC), formerly Office of Economic Adjustment, Department of Defense, for the Design and Construction of the new Guam Public Health Biosafety Laboratory Level 2-3. Governor Leon Guerrero received the official Notice of Award on Friday.

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“This pandemic has highlighted the importance of investing in Guam’s healthcare system, and a new public health laboratory will provide the necessary diagnostic services that will help health care providers treat diseases beyond COVID-19,” said Governor Leon Guerrero. “Since our island serves as a point of origin for foreign visitors to the United States and the free migration of citizens from the Compacts of Freely Associated (COFA) States, there is an even greater need for enhanced analytical testing services in our region.”

A previous version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) did not include authorization for the construction of a public health laboratory. In March 2020, Governor Leon Guerrero wrote to the Chairman and Ranking Members of the House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee as well as the House and Senate Appropriations committees to request reconsideration of the Economic Adjustment Committee’s (EAC) Implementation Plan recommendation to construct a Guam Public Health Laboratory capable of Biosafety Level 2-3 analytical testing. The section would authorize a public infrastructure project on Guam to provide a public health laboratory, as identified in the EAC Implementation Plan Supporting the Preferred Alternative for the Relocation of Marine Corps Forces to Guam. The reconsideration for additional funding was approved by both the House and Senate.

“COVID-19 and our current conditions with the delta variant validate that medical and public health services are critical to the entire island and our region,” added Lt. Governor Josh Tenorio. “COVID-19 or any other infectious disease makes no distinction on or off military installations.”

The Leon Guerrero-Tenorio Administration credits the Department of Defense (DoD), OLDCC, Joint Region Marianas, INDOPACOM, members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Governor’s Washington Liaison former Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo for the successful outcome. Governor Leon Guerrero met with OLSCC Director Patrick O’Brien during her visit to Washington, DC, in July. In their meeting, Director O’Brien provided valuable insight on past projects, including the recent award for the construction of a Guam Public Health Laboratory.

“Without them, we would not have succeeded in overcoming this difficult task. This lab will benefit not only the people of Guam and the DoD community here but also our brothers and sisters across Micronesia,” Governor Leon Guerrero said.

The grant will be administered by the Community Defense Liaison Office, Office of the Governor, in partnership with the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services.