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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

Two surveillance cases cleared, two others to be tested

Results of lab tests conducted on two patients who came from the Philippines returned negative for COVID-19, but two more individuals are currently being tested, according to the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services.

"DPHSS was notified of two additional cases which presented today, March 12," the department said. "These tests will also be administered by the DPHSS local lab."

Meanwhile, Speaker Tina Muna Barnes asked Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero to request an Economic Injury Disaster Declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which would allow Guam businesses to access federal loans available for small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The SBA had instructed local officials to reach out to our governors to request an Economic Injury Disaster Declaration, and the only requirement is that the governor certify that at least than five small businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 in their jurisdiction. By receiving an Economic Injury Declaration , this would allow our small businesses to receive loans of up to $5 Million Dollars with a 30-year term, at a low interest rate," Muna Barnes said in a letter to the governor.

Muña Barnes and Sen. James Moylan joined over 1,000 government officials in the state and local briefing call on coronavirus arranged by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (WH IGA) Thursday morning.

Many health and safety experts are working aggressively with the Coronavirus Task Force led by Vice President Mike Pence and the WH IGA. WH IGA is the primary liaison between the White House and the country’s state and local elected officials as well as tribal governments.

“I am thankful to all of our federal and private partners for working tirelessly in keeping the threat of Coronavirus low for our island and maintaining a clear and open line of communication with our local government. This prompt execution of information from our federal partners is necessary. The pertinent information they share with the public provides peace of mind we need so we can continue our day-to-day lives,” Muña Barnes said.

“As our federal and local government continue to be proactive, we must remember that we also play an important role to keep the threat of coronavirus low. I encourage everyone to please continue to practice good hygiene and stay informed. Let us work together to sustain the health and safety of all people.”

Moylan said the briefing provided useful mitigation strategies. "In addition to the important health information discussed the topic by the U.S. Small Business Administration stated economic disaster loans are available for Guam today if requested by our governor," he added.

On Wednesday, Muña Barnes has certified that emergency conditions exist involving danger to the public health or safety, and therefore the public hearing requirement for Bill 308-35 was waived. The emergency certification paved the way for the Guam Legislature to move ahead and deliberate on a bipartisan measure to create and fund an Emergency Pandemic Fund. This measure would allow for the government of Guam to expend up to $1 million to continue its efforts of keeping our community safe, according to the Speaker's Office. During the Committee of the Whole discussions, the Guam Fire Department and Department of Administration were present to discuss the current financial and Emergency Response situation within the Government of Guam. “As we look at this evolving situation, I want to ensure that we have mechanisms in place to give our front-line responders the tools they need to keep themselves and our community safe," Muña Barnes said. “I am grateful that based on the tabletop exercise last week, the Government of Guam – most importantly our Firefighters and Medics have their SOP’s down-to-the-tee to ensure all CDC and OSHA guidelines are followed – ultimately keeping our heroes and community safe."

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