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7 airmen deployed to Guam test positive for Covid-19

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Seven Air Force service members tested positive for Covid-19 more than two weeks after they arrived on Guam from various locations in the United States for deployment.

The airmen arrived May 25 on a military transport, Andersen Air Force Base confirmed.

When they arrived, they temporarily stayed at a hotel along Tumon Bay.

"Upon arrival, members of the deployed unit were housed at the Guam Reef Hotel in Tumon and received medical checks," the base's public affairs office stated.

“Andersen AFB is continually monitoring the situation and working closely with Joint Region Marianas and the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services to coordinate prevention and response efforts,” said Brig. Gen. Gentry Boswell, 36th Wing commander. “Team Andersen remains committed to the health of our service members, their families and the local community.”

The deployed members came from various locations in the United States.

"In order to protect operational security, we cannot disclose the exact locations at this time," stated Master Sgt. Richard Ebensberger, superintendent of the 36th Wing Public Affairs.

On June 11, 17 days after they arrived on Guam, one of the airmen began to show symptoms of Covid-19 and was immediately tested by U.S. Naval Hospital Guam staff, which later produced a positive result on June 12, Ebensberger confirmed. The six other airmen who had close contact with the first individual have also been confirmed positive.

"All service members assigned to the unit were rapidly placed in isolation and have since been relocated to Andersen AFB where they are under medical observation in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols," Ebensberger added.

Airmen included in local count

The seven airmen are counted as part of the 188 Covid-19 patients on Guam since the pandemic reached Guam's shores in March.

Of the seven airmen who tested for Covid-19 on Guam, three were reported in the government of Guam tally as new cases as of Wednesday evening.

Four of the seven airmen had been included in GovGuam's prior tally, said Krystal Paco-San Agustin, the governor's press secretary.

The more than 1,000 sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt who tested positive for Covid-19 — while the warship was docked at Naval Base Guam — are not part of the Guam count.

The military's medical professionals are conducting contact tracing, the 36th Wing stated.

During contact tracing, the airmen will be asked to state the places they've been to and who they came in contact with. Once the contacts are identified, they will undergo testing for Covid-19.

Covid-19 has been generally believed to manifest within 14 days of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain that causes the disease. The first of the seven airmen who tested positive showed symptoms 17 days after arrival on Guam.

It's not clear how many on Andersen Air Force Base and in the civilian community will be tested for Covid-19.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services is working with Andersen Air Force Base for contact tracing, according to Paco-San Agustin.

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