Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said the first set of contracts with hotels that have been used as quarantine facilities was acquired by virtue of her public health emergency declaration which she said gave her emergency procurement power.
"The authority is that I can institute emergency powers to purchase these facilities. I had to explain in numerous occasions why I did that. It’s all for containing the virus, saving lives, and it’s unfortunate that from this virus, we’ve had five fatalities,” she said.
The governor has been confronted with the question as to how the hotels were selected. The hotel-turned-quarantine facilities were used to house travelers and sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Leon Gerrero said she discussed the urgency during PCOR1 to find a government quarantine. “I had to act very expeditiously,” the governor said. “I had to make decisions right away. So none of the work, none of the actions, none of the decisions I’ve made, are incorrect. None of the decisions I’ve made are illegal. I’m not going to acknowledge, because of how we did the second process, any wrongdoing or any illegality, or any kinds of violations of laws, rules and regulations.”
GovGuam's agreement with Pacific Star Resort authorized renting 389 rooms at $100 per night per room. The agreement cost the government more than $1 million a month.
The government earlier announced that the individuals quarantined at the Pacific Star Resort & Spa would be transferred to Santa Fe Hotel and Wyndham Hotel in Tamuning.
While the first contracts with hotels have expired, the governor noted that the quarantine requirement for travelers. But procurement of new contracts is not as urgent now as it was before, she added.
“So, we were able to use much more the deliberate way of doing it, although the first way was also very deliberate in terms that we had decided that it had to be done urgently and emergently. We then did it through GSA and by the way also, our first group of purchase was also sent to OCD, the HLS. And all the records are maintained there now.”
A question was raised as to why the governor gave verbal permission for the PCOR 1 purchase and written permission during the PCOR 2 purchase.
“It is not an acknowledgement that the first process was illegal or not correct,” Leon Guerrero said. “There is accountability always from our government and our administration. We’re very transparent, we’re very accountable. We work very closely with our administration. We work very closely with making sure that we are in no violation of the laws and the regulations."
Leon Guerrero said if the volume of people needing to be quarantined, the government is likely to consider Pacific Star again. She said the government does not have to pay using the entire hotel, instead they are just paying for rooms occupied.
“With this round of offers, we went out and did the request for interest and got interest back from Wyndham, the Days Inn and Santa Fe,” she sad. “We will then be using these facilities for quarantine. We decided not to use Pacific Star. We didn’t really need that big volume.”
Leon Guerrero reminded the island that Guam isn’t the only place in the world figuring out how to handle the social issues related to Covid-19.
“The pandemic crisis is a really unique emergency throughout Guam and not just Guam, but nationally and globally,” she said. “People never expected this kind of pandemic crisis where hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives and millions have been Covid positive. To try and contain this virus and prevent Guam from having this big serious catastrophe, I had work quickly.”
As for the reopening of commerce, the governor said the first week of reopening has been a success.
“We are really following mobility of people. Google/Apple has the ability to track people’s activities through your smartphone,” said Leon Guerrero. “We’re able to get that analysis from Google and we’re seeing that through our mobility tracking on Guam, people are still not going out."
The governor noted the fear of coronavirus lingers. "So they’re a little bit reluctant to increase their activities,' she said.
The next phase, she said, would lessen restrictions on restaurants to allow the dining in at an occupancy level of 50 percent. “I was very well impressed with the standards of plan and operations that the restaurants industry has submitted to Public Health,” she said.
She looks forward to review the industry’s standards by May 21.
Leon Guerrero believes that many business owners care about the safety of their employees and customers. “I know that the employers in the business community want to test their employees,” the governor said. “We’re working on it with Public Health. Our inventory of testing and the recurrence of restocking is pretty good.”
The governor also considers testing all government workers before fully reopening the island. “We will probably do it as much as we can based on the inventory on the testing that we have.”