Menoni: Military in a ‘holding pattern’ on COVID-19

Admiral John Menoni (PNC file photo)

Joint Region Marianas Commander, Admiral John Menoni, took to the Guam airwaves on K57 Newstalk radio, speaking about the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

In the interview with Patti Arroyo, Menoni says the military has learned a lot since March when the virus first began, especially dealing with the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the US Navy ship sidelined on Guam for two months.

As for a shift to PCOR-1, Menoni says the military buildup will NOT be affected, with construction moving forward, though it could pose challenges with incoming skilled labor.

He says the bases on Guam are now in a holding pattern with the recent spike:

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“That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to close the gates and restrict movement on and off the bases or anything like that. But, we’re going to evaluate and again my decision matrix goes to those big three: are our sailors, marines, airmen, coastguardmen and soldiers getting sick? Are their families healthy? Are we seeing a transmission vector from our bases into the local community? And is this impacting our readiness to do our mission? So, if those things are all things stable, I think we can hold where we are and then evaluate over the next two weeks over the effectiveness of any increase in PCOR.”

As for the service member who tested positive coming to Guam on a United flight from Honolulu last week, Menoni says it was ultimately a GovGuam decision to quarantine all the passengers.

Most of the 92 people from that flight are still quarantined. The governor’s office says anyone within 3 rows of that positive-passenger has to complete the entire 14 days of quarantine, while the other more “low-risk” travelers can test out after 7 days.

Menoni says testing before getting on a commercial flight is not required by DoD because of the Restriction of Movement policy.

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“So this individual got a test, and I’m not sure what drove that logic to get a test but they got a test in Hawaii prior to boarding the United flight. Those test results weren’t available prior to take off. Once they became available, Hawaii Public Health and the military in Hawaii communicated with Guam Public Health and the military community here that an individual was positive on the plane,” Menoni said.

The passengers now in quarantine are being held at a mix of GovGuam and DoD facilities on island.