Doctor: Family gatherings lend to increasing Covid-19 cases on Guam

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Family gatherings are the reason behind most of the island's Covid-19 positive cases, according to the chairman of the governor's physicians advisory group.

“It’s family that’s passing it onto each other,” said Dr. Hoa Nguyen. “Your sister or brother comes to visit you for some reason, that’s where the risk of passing to each other is (the greatest).”

He added that oftentimes when family members visit each other, they don’t use masks, which increases the possibility of spreading the novel coronavirus.

That leads to what has become an increase, he said, in workplace contact, which “happens because the people who (caught the virus) from home are going to work ... and they pass it along at work now.”

According to a Department of Public Health and Social Services report, the epidemiological links for cases since March showed:

  • Household contact: 925
  • Community contact: 702
  • Workplace contact: 274

Nguyen said they’re asking people to stay home and not visit other family members from other households.

The Joint Information Center reported 92 new cases from Oct. 9 to 11, which comes from various clinics. DPHSS had reported 89 cases for those same three days, raising the total to 181.

There are 60 fatalities linked to Covid-19, JIC reported. There are 921 people in active isolation and 2,189 who've completed active isolation. Of those cases, 2,890 are classified as civilians and 280 are military service members.

Nguyen said there are a number of local businesses that do take measures to test employees and shut down for cleaning, including most recently Kmart, to ensure no other employees contract the virus. Kmart officials closed the Upper Tumon store for a day to clean after employees tested positive. Store officials said they were deep cleaning the store to ensure safety for their team and customers.

Nguyen didn’t say how many Kmart employees had tested positive for Covid-19.


A vehicle from The Laundry Solutions is parked in front of Kmart while performing disinfection inside the store, Monday, Oct. 12. Kmart closed its Upper Tumon store for 24 hours to perform deep cleaning and sanitation. Photo by David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

“When you have one to two, then most likely that’s from home. But if you have a workplace that has five or more positive ... you know there’s a breakout in the workplace,” he said.

Nguyen said employers should review their policies regularly with employees, and ensure masks and other personal protective equipment are being used.

It’s common for co-workers to get together for lunch or dinner, which means they’re taking off their masks to eat, but they’re also gathering in close proximity.

“Also I encourage employees, if you’re sick, not to go to work,” he said, adding he understands some people are afraid to miss work because they are their household's only or main source of income and they can’t afford not to get paid.

“That’s where the spreading of the (infection at) the workplace begins,” he added, saying there seems to be a breakdown in protocol somewhere that’s allowing positive cases to surge at the workplace.

Many government offices have been closed. Those that are open have also found positive cases, including the Guam Department of Education, which announced one Finegayan Elementary School employee tested positive.

In addition, the Port Authority of Guam announced a 12th employee tested positive for Covid-19.

Both agencies are working with DPHSS to conduct contact tracing and are taking measures to clean their respective facilities, officials said.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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