Leon Guerrero shuts down GovGuam agencies, local doctors call for two-week lockdown

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

HAGÅTÑA — Guam Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero on Monday temporarily shut down government offices, suspended schools for 14 days and issued new guidelines on social gatherings, business activities, and quarantine protocols, in hopes of containing the spread of Covid-19, which has infected three local residents.

On Monday, the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services tested 12 more individuals, who returned negative results for coronavirus.

Doubting that it will be able to handle a massive outbreak, the Guam Medical Association called on the administration to place the island on a 14-day lockdown.

“Guam is very small, unlike our stateside partners, we don’t have enough doctors, nurses, supplies, and with only two civilian hospitals that we must protect,” GMA president Dr. Tom Shieh said.

Shieh noted that one of three patients currently in isolation for treatment has never traveled, which he said was an indication that the disease is being spread locally.

“As our nation’s top infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci noted, we have to stop the virus from coming in, and blunt the infectious curve,” Shieh said. “This is especially important for our small island. We have a gate that is open for this virus and that is at the airport.”

Shieh said GMA members have recommended that Guam be placed on a lockdown and quarantine for two weeks to stop any new viruses from coming in.

The 14-day reprieve, he said, will allow the medical sector to manage and recover from current local infection. “Time for us to also revamp our strategy before we open that gate again. I encourage all of us to be prepared as much as we can,” Shieh said.

The Joint Information Center said the administration is “aggressively implementing” its planned Covid-19 response to identify and contain transmission of coronavirus. “From Sunday into Monday morning, the DPHSS has been actively conducting contact tracing for the three positive Covid-19 cases that were identified on Sunday,” JIC said.

Leon Guerrero delivered a special address early morning Monday, announcing the 14-day suspension of non-essential government of Guam operations effective Monday.

“All critical health and public safety operations will continue uninterrupted. This 14-day shutdown includes schools and all other government agencies,” the governor said in a special address. “Directors will advise government employees if they are required to report for essential government operations.”

Residents gather items from the Oka Pay-Less Supermarket on Sunday night after the announcement of three confirmed Covid-19 cases on Guam.  Photo by Nick Delgado/The Guam Daily Pos

Following the revised guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Leon Guerrero also modified the prohibition on large gatherings, which now applies to “50 or more people in a single room or single space at the same time for social, spiritual, and recreational activities, including, but not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events, parades, concerts, festivals, fiestas, conventions, fundraisers, and similar activities throughout Guam.”

The executive order also requires reduced traffic to any place of business or public accommodation. Restaurants are mandated to accommodate only 50 percent of seating capacity.

The directive, however, does not apply to retail establishments providing basic food and necessities such as grocery and convenience stores, hospitals, pharmacies, or other medical offices and facilities.

“By now, you have likely heard the term social distancing quite a bit. This practice includes maintaining a distance of between six and ten feet from the next person when you are out in public,” the governor said. “Please practice social distancing. It is imperative to our community’s health.”

While Guam does not have authority to impose travel restrictions on local residents, the governor seeks to manage the entry of travelers coming from affected areas.

“Effective immediately, nonresident travelers seeking entry into Guam who have spent a week or more in jurisdictions affected by Covid-19 will be subject to mandatory quarantine,” the government said in a release.

“The mandatory quarantine will be applied unless the traveler possesses a DPHSS recognized and certified document that attests he or she is not infected with Covid-19. Returning residents without the same certification will be subject to quarantine in their homes for a minimum of 14 days.”

Local residents — some are nervous while others remain calm— have begun making plans and preparations for any contingency. Many hit the stores to stock up on emergency supplies.

Val Senior, a supervisor at Flame Tree Freedom Center’s cleaning and maintenance service, has stocked up on food supply. “I’m not worried about toilet paper because I use tabo (water scoop),” he said.

Senior heads a team that provides cleaning and maintenance services to iLearn Charter School in Dededo. Since news of the coronavirus outbreak began, Senior said, “We increased using bleach and sanitizing the bathrooms, wall to wall and door knobs — just about everything that kids will touch.”

Roma Kohn, a real estate broker who lives in Tamuning, purchased a supply of dry goods and medicines.

Is she confident that Guam can handle a massive outbreak? “Lol,” Kohn replied, “Not, if GovGuam’s plan to handle this is to give themselves a paid two-week vacation.”

previous arrow
next arrow

Read more articles

Visit our Facebook Page

previous arrow
next arrow