Number of positive COVID-19 cases in unnamed AAFB unit rises to 35

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JIC #190
JIC #190

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in a still unnamed military unit deployed to Andersen Air Force Base has now risen to 35 from the 7 reported just 3 days ago.

All members of the deployed unit have now been tested, according to Joint Information Center release #190.

The 35 service members who have tested positive have been “placed under mandatory isolation, and all other military members associated (with) this unit were placed under mandatory enforced quarantine on Andersen AFB.”

Their condition has not been reported.

JIC #190 states that Andersen AFB is working with Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Services to conduct a “thorough and complete” trace of the places and people that the infected unit members may have come into contact with.

Over the past four days, the test results from this unnamed unit have risen from 7 on Wednesday, to 8 on Thursday, 15 on Friday, and now 35 positive cases.

They arrived May 25

The unit arrived at Andersen Air Force Base on May 25. Its members were lodged at the Guam Reef Hotel in Tumon, according to a Wednesday news release from Andersen Air Force Base.

Seventeen days later, on June 11, one member of the unit began to show symptoms of COVID-19.

A sample from that person was tested at Naval Hospital and found to be positive. Six other service members were also found to be infected with the coronavirus, raising to seven the total number of positive cases in the unit, according to the June 17th news release from Andersen.

However, that number conflicted with the two cases the Joint Information Center said DoD had reported to them on that day.

In response to a request for clarification, 36 Wing Public Affairs MSgt. Richard Ebensberger told PNC News: “Our numbers are correct at 7 cases related to Andersen AFB.” And the governor’s office said some of the AAFB cases had already been reported and the others would be reported in their next release.

The next day, GovGuam in JIC #185, reported that the Department of Defense had advised there were eight, not seven, positive cases within the same unnamed unit.

On Friday, JIC #189 reported that the number of positive cases had risen to 15 after the Department of Defense advised GovGuam that another seven service members from the same unit had also tested positive.

Also on Friday, Joint Region Marianas Commander Rear Admiral John Menoni issued an order, effective immediately, prohibiting service members on island from going to any bars or dine-in restaurants.

On Saturday, June 20, JIC #190 stated that the Department of Defense reported to GovGuam another 20 cases and 35 service members within this one unnamed unit have now become infected with the coronavirus.

Questions

The surge in cases raises a number of questions that have not been answered in the news releases issued by either the military or the Government of Guam.

Were members of this unit in quarantine at the Reef hotel following their May 25th arrival?

Could they have infected members of the public during their time in Tumon at the Reef Hotel?

Did this unit bring the coronavirus with them or did they contract the disease here?

MSgt. Richard Ebensberger has not yet responded to a request for additional comment.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has not held a COVID-19 briefing since Friday, May 29, three weeks ago.

The governor’s newly appointed interim president for the Guam Visitors Bureau, former Governor Carl Gutierrez, told PNC News Friday that plans to re-open the island for tourism remain on track for July 1 when the 14-day mandatory quarantine will be lifted for passengers arriving from South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

Timeline:

* May 25:  Unnamed military unit deployed to AAFB, “lodged at Guam Reef Hotel.”

* June 11: One member of the unit “began to show symptoms.”

* June 12:  Naval Hospital reports that sample from a unit member with symptoms tested positive for COVID-19.

*June 17: 36th Wing Public Affairs at AAFB issues news release reporting seven positive cases of COVID-19 from the unnamed unit.

*June 17: AAFB MSgt. Richard Ebensberger, 36th Wing Public Affairs, said: “Our numbers are correct at seven cases related to Andersen AFB.”

*June 18: JIC #185 – “Eight cases of COVID-19 have been identified among service members in a unit deployed to Andersen Air Force Base.”

*June 19: JIC #188 – Seven additional positive cases of COVID-19 are reported to Guam Public Health by the Department of Defense  “among service members in a unit deployed to Andersen Air Force Base (AAFB), bringing the total cases associated with this unit to 15.”

*June 20: JIC #190 – “Twenty were identified through contact tracing among service members in a unit deployed to Andersen Air Force Base (AFB), bringing the total cases associated with this unit to 35.”

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