Is Guam having a COVID-19 surge?

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The number of positive COVID-19 cases has been steadily rising during the past few days, going above the usual 2 or 3 cases.

On Thursday, there were 8 COVID-19 positive cases recorded and before that the number of positive cases reached 14, breaking the double digit figure where it hasn’t been for a long time.

Moreover, reports have been mushrooming about businesses closing their doors because of COVD-19 infection among their ranks.

Just this week, Crust Pizzeria, PROA Restaurant, and Calvo’s SelectCare had to close their doors temporarily because their staffers became infected by the coronavirus.

Father Duenas Memorial School had to close yesterday after confirming a case of COVID-19 among its school community. It remains closed today, Friday.

Even the government sector was not spared as the Guam Power Authority reported two of its employees testing positive for COVID-19 and two B.P. Carbullido Elementary School Grab and Go workers also testing positive for COVID-19.

There are other businesses that have employees who tested positive and have been forced to close shop but chose not to announce their closures to the public.

All of this is happening barely two weeks after Adelup announced the lowering of the Pandemic Condition of Readiness to PCOR-3 and the loosening of the quarantine restrictions last July 24.

The declaration of PCOR-3 allowed the reopening of more businesses and increased the limit on social gatherings from 25 to 50 people.

The loosening of the quarantine restrictions, on the other hand, allowed Guam visitors to stay for up to 5 days without showing proof of a negative test for COVID-19.

This has been criticized by some who said that infected persons can still spread the virus within the 5-day period when they are free to roam around the island.

Even Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero acknowledged in an interview with K-57 that the new quarantine restrictions are not foolproof.

Senator Therese Terlaje, who chairs the legislature’s health committee, said she has been contacting the Public Health Director daily and he continues to assure the senator that they have existing capacity to adequately trace and control these cases, and that he will advise the public and the Governor if any policy changes are required.

“In the meantime, these daily reports serve as reminders to remain vigilant about wearing our masks and maintaining physical distancing. Thank you to the staff at DPHSS who are unsung heroes as well as the other government employees and Guardsmen who have been detailed to monitor our positive patients and quarantine facilities. They are working to keep us all informed and safe,” the senator said.

Critic

But Dr. Vince Akimoto, a vocal critic of the administration, pointed out that a number of COVD-19 positive cases came from passengers of flights coming into Guam — a fact that even the Joint Information Center includes in its daily reports.

For instance, among the eight positive cases identified Thursday, one had recent travel to the US while among the 14 COVID-19 positive identified on Wednesday, two had recent travel to the continental US.

“I don’t know if you know, but in the last several days, there have been flights coming in from the Philippines, as well as from the mainland United States which continue to be COVID-19 hotspots,” Akimoto told PNC in an interview.

He said more support should be given to the Public Health employees who are doing the public monitoring and contact tracing of COVID-19 positive persons.

“These people at Public Health are working their butts off. They haven’t had a day off for months, but they’re doing all the work. The people at Public Health working so hard are like the people in the Alamo. They are besieged, simply stressed out and stretched too thin while we have 500 other people actually stretching their shirts because they’re eating so much,” Akimoto said.

He added: “And here’s the big thing. Apparently, GovGuam received $1.4 million to build contact tracing. So we have the money to increase staff and buy more equipment.”

According to Akimoto, although Public Health is going high-tech and using “apps” for monitoring and contact tracing, there is still no replacement for actual people doing the actual monitoring and enforcing the rules.

“Look at the 36 airmen who broke the rules under their noses and just went gallivanting around town. If someone is sick, they shouldn’t be allowed to go to a funeral where there are 200 other people. Like what Reagan said, we can’t just trust. We must trust and verify,” Akimoto said.

In the meantime, PNC sources said the Governor’s Physicians Advisory Group are meeting to assess the current spike in COVID-19 cases and determine the next course of action.

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