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Doctor: Underlying health problems shouldn’t minimize Covid-19 deaths

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — A doctor on the governor's physicians advisory group Wednesday talked about his and other health care professionals' frustration with those who seem to "minimize" Covid-19 deaths because of underlying health conditions, or comorbidities.

Comorbidity is defined as more than one disease or condition present in the same person at the same time.

It can be diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer, among others.

"Just because they have a comorbidity doesn't make them less of a person. Months lost is months lost. Years lost is years lost. Decades lost is decades lost," Dr. Felix Cabrera told mayors.

Cabrera was one of the guest speakers at Wednesday's Mayors' Council of Guam special monthly meeting at the Sinajana Senior Citizens Center.

Cabrera said this "cannot be an excuse" and should not even be "spoken by anybody, especially in the business community."

The governor, in consultation with her advisory groups, placed Guam on the highest condition of pandemic readiness for the second time when cases and deaths spiked. Some businesses criticized the restrictions.

"I have comorbidities," Cabrera told the mayors. "If I die from Covid-19, is my life less valuable because I have comorbidities? No. I hope we all agree that that is not the case. The same with everybody else in this room if you have comorbidities."

The doctor said this is the kind of conversation that he hopes can be had with the rest of the community, and the kind that mayors can have with their constituents.

"These deaths really matter and that we can never get numb to them," Cabrera said.

This conversation started when Asan-Maina Mayor Frankie Salas, a Covid-19 survivor, asked health officials at the meeting whether care can be improved for Covid-19 patients after he lost his 31-year-old daughter to the disease recently.

She was hospitalized for shortness of breath, only to be sent home, and then was hospitalized again and then died, Salas said.

Salas also said his daughter had diabetes and high blood pressure, along with other health issues.

"Your daughter was a clear example of what really frustrates a lot of us in the health care industry and that are doing our best to fight Covid-19," Cabrera said. "And that's when a lot of people start saying that because they have comorbidities, they're going to die anyway from Covid-19. Covid-19 just sped it up a little bit."

Despite the setbacks, Cabrera said health professionals, with the community's help, will continue to do their best to fight the disease and to prevent people from dying from it.

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