Mixed reactions to PCOR-3 status change

Tumon (PNC file photo)

The island went into PCOR-3 status Monday in line with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s announcement during her news conference last Friday.

This essentially means that almost all businesses will be allowed to operate and the social gatherings limit will be increased from 25 to 50 people, applicable to outdoor gatherings.

This change in the pandemic condition of readiness status has elicited mixed reactions.

The business sector, of course, welcomes the decision as it has been calling for the reopening of Guam for months.

Tourism industry businesses, in particular, have called for the reopening of Guam to tourists and the resumption of business activities.

Many island residents are also welcoming the downgrade to PCOR-3, according to PNC’s Facebook page.

Jenny Toves says she’s happy the governor made the decision to go into PCOR-3. “I’m glad, let’s see what happens. As long as numbers stay low, it’s time to get back in business,” she said.

Ken Agustin agrees, saying people need to get back to work and support their families. “Just keep wearing your mask when out and about and keep practicing social distancing. And wash your hands!”

However, some have expressed concerns.

Ito Pangle McCord said: “Watch this all go so wrong…. and then it will be too late. GMH cannot handle … She (the governor) has just put all of us in imminent risk of sickness and death.”

Others are concerned with the new 5-day rule for visitors entering Guam.

Under the new quarantine protocol effective this Friday, tourists coming from so-called “low-risk” countries will be allowed to stay for up to 5 days without showing proof of a negative test for COVID-19.

Dr. Felix Cabrera, of the governor’s physician advisory group, said: “If your stay is less than 5 nights, then at this point here you won’t require any testing coming into Guam. And then while you’re in Guam, you will not be required to quarantine or test any further.”

Scott Dueñas II said: ‘No testing or quarantine for tourists till after five days? The average tourist stay is less than five days. What a nice loophole you’ve created!”

One medical technician, who wished to be anonymous, said that COVID-19 can be transmitted by people who are already infected even before their symptoms appear — the so-called pre-symptomatic carriers. The incubation period for COVID-19, which is the time between exposure to the virus (becoming infected) and symptom onset, is on average 5-6 days, but it can be up to 14 days. During this period, also known as the “pre-symptomatic” period, some infected persons can be contagious.

“So in that 5-day window, a pre-symptomatic carrier who enters Guam can spread the coronavirus here before the 5 days are up,” the technician said.

Gradual and deliberate

As she had stated before, the governor reiterated that the reopening of Guam will be slow, gradual, and deliberate.

“Every decision made is based on the data we have and our ability to manage and respond to the threat of COVID-19. Collectively, we have made great progress since the public health emergency was declared on March 14, and I am confident in the measured approach we are taking and the direction our island is heading,” the governor said during her Friday news conference.

But while this shift into PCOR-3 reflects the medical data that the administration has been tracking, the governor is reminding everyone that the emergency is far from over.

“As we continue to monitor our progress, I will be extending the public health emergency to Aug. 29. Remember our goal is not simply to move from one PCOR to another — it is to reopen our economy in a way that protects both lives and livelihoods. To do so, we must continue 6-feet social distancing, wearing face masks even if we’re just with friends and family, and practicing good personal hygiene. These actions may be simple, and sound repetitive, but they have made a huge difference in our community’s ability to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” the governor stressed.