Public health emergency extended 14 days; Guam said to be near ‘breakpoint’

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Governor Lou Leon Guerrero today announced she is extending her state of health emergency for another two weeks until at least Monday April 13.

The extension was prompted by the spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases which as of Sunday evening had reached 27, with one death.

On Monday, for the second day in a row, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero held a remote news conference from the civil defense bunker in Agana Heights where she made the latest announcment.

“I would like to announce that I will be extending our public health emergency for 14 days. Details will be published in an exhibited order which will be issued tomorrow. I will also be closing parks and beaches with detailed guidelines to follow,” the governor said.

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The governor also invited an internal medicine physician, Dr. Felix Cabrera, to present a PowerPoint presentation put together by her physician advisory group.

Dr. Cabrera said that the growing number of people on Guam in need of care as a result of the coronavirus outbreak on island “has the potential of overwhelming” the already limited bed and nursing capacity at the island’s three hospitals.

When all the ICU beds staffed by nurses become full, and there are only 15 unstaffed hospital beds left, then we will have reached the critical care system breakpoint, said Dr. Cabrera.

“And what will happen here is that the death rate from Covid-19 will skyrocket from here, if not earlier. At our current spread rate, Guam’s critical care system breakpoint could occur by next week, if not sooner,” Dr. Cabrera said.

He added that it could have been much worse, if not for the governor’s recent orders mandating social distancing and ordering the closure of restaurants and entertainment venues where people gather and the disease could easily be spread.

“So because of our current efforts with everyone doing social distance, washing your hands, covering your cough … we avoided having a breakpoint yesterday, but we only bought time,” Cabrera said.

The doctor said only through aggressive enforcement of the social distancing mandates in the coming weeks can the community avoid overwhelming the island’s health care facilities and workers.

“Everyone must take all our governor’s orders and advice very very seriously. Most important is strict social distancing and very frequent hygiene, not just hand hygiene I’m talking about hygiene throughout the house and everywhere you go,” Dr. Cabrera said.

The Governor said:  “I want to assure every one of you that we are doing everything in our power and we will not stop until we can eradicate this virus from our island.”

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