Governor declares PCOR-1; all non-essential businesses closed for 2 weeks

Adelup Governor's Complex (PNC file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero held an online news conference Friday morning announcing the declaration of Pandemic Condition of Readiness 1 for Guam.

Starting 12:01 am, Sunday, Aug 16, all non-essential businesses and all public gatherings are prohibited.

Originally, the PCOR-1 effectivity was set for 12:01 am Saturday, Aug. 15. But this was changed to Saturday night going into Sunday to give people time to prepare.

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Under PCOR-1, all schools will have no in-person classes and all parks are closed except for individuals who engage in physical exercises.

According to the governor, her decision was made in consultation with her physicians’ advisory group.

The governor stressed that the PCOR-1 status is just temporary and will last for a 2-week period.

“As numbers start coming down, we will revisit the decision,” Leon Guerrero said.

She added that it will not be a total shutdown.

Among the essential businesses that will remain open are: grocery stores, Home Depot, Kmart, curbside farmer’s market, pharmacies, banks, credit unions, and gas stations. The complete list will be released by the governor’s office in an executive order.

Although dine-in services at restaurants are closed, take-out orders will be allowed. The construction industry will also remain open.

The primary election, which falls within the 2-week PCOR-1 shutdown, will push through, the governor assured, as will early voting.

The policy for incoming visitors coming through the airport will also remain, including the 5-day quarantine rule.

According to the governor, she decided to go into PCOR-1 because of the surge in COVID-19 cases.

She said there were 90 positive cases in the past week alone and there were 121 positive cases in just half of the month.

“These are numbers not seen at the beginning of the pandemic and the increase is alarming and a cause for concern,” Leon Guerrero said.

She stressed that the decision was not made lightly but she had to reimplement restrictions to keep Guam healthy, adding that 65 percent of the latest cases were traced locally.

“Many of these cases were in social gatherings, bars, funerals, and the beaches. People were not wearing masks and practicing social distance,” the governor lamented.

With the flu season coming up, Leon Guerrero said she is worried about the number of hospital beds on island because Guam has a limited number of beds for COVID-19 and a limited number of beds for other medical cases.

She said Admiral John Menoni has informed her that Joint Region Marianas can help out if GovGuam runs out of hospital beds.

Earlier in the morning, Menoni told K-57’s Patti Arroyo that the equipment used for the two tent hospitals put up at Naval Hospital and at South Finegayen are still on island.

“So we have plans in place that should we see an explosion locally that requires more hospitalizations and our local medical facilities get stressed, I can build essentially another hospital down at Santa Rita and then fly in medical providers as needed. And, there are people on hand prepared to deploy to support that, should GovGuam ask or should we need that,” Menoni said.

The governor has also ordered expanded community COVID-19 testing to continue. For four Saturdays in a row, starting tomorrow, Aug. 15, at the Yigo gym, Public Health will conduct expanded community COVID-19 testing.

If the numbers don’t go down, the governor said PCOR-1 may have to be maintained. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s where we’re at,” Leon Guerrero said.

The governor pointed out that this PCOR-1 will be different because GovGuam is more prepared based on the experience and lessons learned since March.

During the news conference, Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio also asked people to reconsider off-island travel or ask their loved ones to not travel to Guam.

“Just hold out. The situation in the U.S. is not getting better,” Tenorio said.

The governor added: “We must rally and present a united front. The new situation demands courage. I know we are capable of winning this war. We will rebuild again! Wear your masks!”