Senior centers won’t reopen all at once; phased reopening planned

Senior citizens center. (PNC file photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s latest executive order will allow senior citizen centers to reopen starting July 1st.

But just because they can reopen, doesn’t mean they will.

The governor’s executive order says that senior citizens centers may resume operations starting July 1. However, the order also says that operations are subject to applicable guidance from the Department of Public Health and Social Services as well as the operational requirements of the Mayors Council of Guam.

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Public Health director Art San Agustin told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo that his agency, the Mayors Council of Guam, and the Division of Senior Citizens are still working out the details on how to reopen the senior centers.

One thing they’ve agreed on, however, is that they won’t open all at once.

“I was in conversation last night with the president of the Mayors Council of Guam, Mayor Jesse Alig, and also with the acting senior citizens administrator, Sharlene San Nicolas. They have been meeting and they’re looking at a phased approach. They’re looking at starting with the daycare centers, and then work with the 12 senior citizen centers, and then start working to open them up in a phased approach, and I think what they’re looking at is starting in July and on into early October,” San Agustin said.

The reason for the phased approach is to abide by COVID safety protocols.

Also, because senior centers must abide by federal guidelines, and they’ve been waiting for guidance from the federal government.

For the time being, Public Health, the Mayors Council, and the Division of Senior Citizens have ordered COVID protection supplies and are developing tentative plans.

Right now, the plan is to start with adult daycare because those clients are the most vulnerable and require more supervision.

They’re also using the State Plan on Aging’s guidance on clients at the greatest socioeconomic risk or need to prioritize their clients.

They’re also seeking guidance on whether they can include a client’s vaccination status as part of their decision-making process.

San Agustin said that vaccination status may be considered discriminatory because it isn’t being used to help determine eligibility for employment, but rather, it’s being used to help determine eligibility for access to services.

Jess Alig, president of the Mayors Council of Guam, said: “We want them to be safe. We don’t know who’s vaccinated, we don’t know if we can even check if they’re vaccinated. So when we open, we want to be prepared either way. And so if the grantors say that we can’t ask about vaccinations, and we can’t require vaccination, then our staff who service these centers, will have to be properly prepared and trained to service them in the centers.”