- By Mar-Vic Cagurangan and Phillip V. Cruz Jr
Governor says 'The worst is yet to come'
As Guam’s Covid-19 tally continues to mount each day, the local medical community anticipates the situation to be much worse than what the current statistics show, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said, warning that “the worst is yet to come.”
“We are in it for the long run,” the governor said during a video conference with reporters on Saturday. “We are not yet out of the woods-- not even close.”
She said data presented to her by the Medical Advisory Council show that there is “strong possibility that our infection will be greater than what we are seeing today. We are testing the limits of our health care system and we will reach that limit if we do not act now.”
The White House has approved her request for presidential disaster declaration. “This declaration will allow us to access federal programs to help our people as we do all we can to fight Covid-19,” the governor said.
President Donald J. Trump has ordered federal assistance to supplement territory and local recovery efforts.
"The President’s action makes Federal funding available to territory and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas in the territory of Guam impacted by Covid," the White House said in a press release.
Pete Gaynor, administrator of Federal Emergency Management Agency has named named Robert J. Fenton as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas.
As of Friday, Guam has 55 Covid-19 positives, which include two cases tested by the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego. According to the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services, 28 are in stable condition, 15 are hospitalized, seven have recovered and one deceased.
DPHSS said the seven individuals who have recovered “are no longer considered infectious.”
A total of 366 tests were performed from March 12 to 28 with conclusive results. Public Health Director Linda DeNorcey said Guam has 300 more test kits to use.
Leon Guerrero said 2,000 more test kits for Covid-19 are on their way. She also requested the Navy to share with the civilian population any extra test kits it can spare.
Also today, the governor also signed a new executive order extending the closure of non-essential businesses and facilities to April 13, establishing a moratorium on evictions, clarifying price gouging prohibitions and providing for telephonic participation in public meetings to enforce the social distancing mandate.
“We have a limited time frame to flatten the curve and now is the time to act,” Leon Guerrero said. “We are not recovering as quickly as we are discovering new cases. For every person cleared of Covid-19, we are gathering even more confirmation.”
The governor’s medical advisors said Guam has a 33 percent spread rate.
She said her medical advisory council is putting together new data and tracking various places on Guam, where the Covid-19 is likely spreading. “They had informed me that we are just at the beginning of what would be the worst-case scenario,” the governor said.
At any rate, federal aid is under way. Under the $2 trillion federal stimulus package signed by President Trump Friday, Guam will receive $111 million, Leon Guerrero said.
Relief will be coming to businesses and people who are need of extra help to cope with the crisis. She also added that the Department of Revenue and Taxation will be using taxes that were filed in 2018 and 2019 to help determine who will get what and how much. Individuals who are single and made less than $150,000 will receive $1,200, and married couples will receive $2,400, and children will get $500.
The governor’s executive order also requires employers who have reduced their workforce through employee terminations, layoffs, furloughs, or reduction in hours to report their data to the Guam Department of Labor to help facilitate grants the U.S. Department of Labor’s Disaster Unemployment Assistance program..