Guam updates pandemic response plan in preparation for coronavirus

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From health professionals to military, government and the private sector, people pitched in to have their say on what a coronavirus response on Guam would look like.

It was standing room only at the Pacific Star hotel today as key players on Guam gathered to update and fine-tune the island’s pandemic response plan — something that hasn’t been done in 12 years.

From health professionals to military, government and the private sector, people pitched in to have their say on what a coronavirus response on Guam would look like.

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Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and Public Health Director Linda DeNorcey gave opening remarks during the only part of the conference that was open to media.

The closed-door sessions today had some 200 people from all sectors of the community to address gaps in the pandemic response plan that hasn’t been updated since 2008.

When asked why the document hadn’t been updated for so long, Krystal Paco San Agustin, the governor’s press secretary said she couldn’t speak to that, as this is only Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s second year in office.

Many officials on Guam have already said it’s no longer a matter of “if” the coronavirus arrives but a race against time for “when” it gets here.

The governor today re-iterated that our island is still coronavirus-free.

“We’re familiar with disaster right! FEMA! We’re resilient people. We are healthcare professionals. We are people who have dealt with disasters and crisis situations. And I ask that we remain calm and cautious. And I ask that we focus on what we need to do…so when the time comes, we are prepared. I am hoping and praying that we will pass this without a coronavirus,” the governor said.

Among preparations that they’re doing, the governor said, is the calling up of unemployed nurses who she says have agreed to come to the table and support the pandemic efforts. The governor is also asking for collaboration from all doctors on island as well.

Leon Guerrero also mentioned that she’s working closely with the federal government, referencing a conference call, she was a part of, with Vice President Mike Pence.

“We will be able to work with them to get medical supplies. I have talked to administrators in the various agencies, and they tell me that they have the supplies. And they’re getting more as a precaution, to make sure that we have the necessary masks, the necessary N-95 masks that should really be for healthcare workers, the necessary gowns, the necessary protective gear so that if we do have a coronavirus situation, that requires expertise and acute care in our hospitals, that we are well prepared in doing so,” the governor said.

The governor also pointed out that the disease is equally an economic threat to Guam, as it is a public health one, and that her finance team is coming up with different solutions to give businesses impacted by tourist cancellations the cash-flow they need to run their operations.

And for everyone in the general public, the governor reiterated: “We are going to prepare for the worst… and hope for the best.”

After the speeches wrapped up, there was a short presentation by Public Health employees on good hygiene practices, including coughing etiquette and the need for constant hand washing.

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