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Guam chamber: Some businesses 'will not survive this two-week mandatory pause'

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Another shut down of businesses deemed non-essential will further cripple our island’s economy, a local business organization stated.

“This authorization places a hardship and burden not only on a vast majority of businesses on Guam but their employees and families as well. No sales revenue means no pay for private sector employees,” the Guam Chamber of Commerce noted in a statement released Saturday, which called on the government to do more to protect our economy and especially our small businesses.

In response, the governor said her declaration of PCOR1 is intended “to save lives now and protect livelihoods in the long run.”


“If our community is sick, we will have nothing more than a sick economy,” she stated.

On Friday, the governor announced the island would return to Pandemic Condition of Readiness 1, effect 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 16.

The governor said the “Chamber’s statements are based on the wrong data.”

“While it is true that our test positivity rate over the life of this pandemic is 1.8%, over the past 7 days alone, Guam’s test positivity rate for Covid-19 has nearly doubled from 1.8% to 3.2% respectively,” she stated.

“In just this month, we confirmed 146 new cases of Covid-19. This alone represents 29% of our confirmed cases since March — evidence that we are worse off than the beginning of our pandemic.

She said of greater concern is Guam's hospitalization rate.

“While our hospitalization rate remained stable at just two to three a couple of weeks ago, it stands at 11 today,” the governor stated on Saturday.

The Guam Chamber of Commerce said there’s a disconnect between the private sector’s expected response to the pandemic and the government’s response.

Two Lovers Point is one of the many tourist attractions that have suffered from the global pandemic as seen on July 23, 2020 in Tumon, Guam. Photo by David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

“While government employees are also required to close, these employees continue to be paid. By temporarily closing ‘non-essential' businesses and government offices it further exacerbates the “us and them” mindset in our small island community,” the Chamber stated.

“(Department of Public Health and Social Services) has done a great job with contract tracing and for those that have tested positive, clusters have been found and traced to points whereby infection happened. However, all businesses that are not deemed essential are forced to close their doors despite no positive case tracing to their establishments.”

The Chamber noted “frustration and uncertainty among local businesses as all have gone above and beyond to ensure that their operations are in compliance with CDC and Guam Public Health guidelines.”

They added that low sales revenue and the additional costs of complying with public health protocols “have meant the life and death of one company after another over the past several months.”

“As many have tried their best to hang on, we are deeply afraid that many more businesses will not survive this two-week mandatory pause,” the Chamber stated.

They added that as businesses close, people will lose their jobs and the Federal Unemployment Assistance will not be available forever.

“For those who have received assistance, they have already seen a drop in the amounts they are getting. In December, benefits will cease all together,” the Chamber stated. “The Government has reported that they do not have the resources to fund the matching requirements of further unemployment assistance. How will our people put food on their table, pay their rent, pay their utilities, or pay their loans? How will our young people just recently graduated be gainfully employed?”

Tested

On Sunday morning, 14 people tested positive out of 677 samples that were tested for Covid-19 through the Department of Public Health and Social Services, the Joint Information Center said.

Guam has 166 active cases.

12 people with confirmed cases of Covid-19 are now in the hospital. Three are in the intensive care unit.

To date, there have been a total of 516 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with five deaths, and 345 people have been released from isolation.

Of those cases, 457 are civilians and 59 are military service members.

A total of 1,476 people were tested Saturday as the island prepared to go into the Pandemic Condition of Readiness 1.

As a result of the large number of samples collected from community testing sites throughout the island, the official update of results for August 15 will be released as they become available, the Joint Information Center stated.

 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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