• By Ethan Perez

Return to normalcy remains 'uncertain'

As Guam remains in PCOR 2, the reopening of restaurants will be pushed back to avoid increased risk of Covid-19, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said Thursday.

"I have decided to delay the opening of dine-in restaurants after meeting with the State Surgeon Cell," Leon Guerrero said.

The reopening of restaurants has been delayed on the heels of Wednesday's tests that showed 11 new cases, the third highest incidence of Covid-19 positive in a single day on Guam. Of the 11 positive cases, 10 came from a residential cluster in the north with one being an outlier. Public health officials said all individuals in this group had previously come into close contact with someone who had previously tested positive.

"Contrary to rumors, none of these newly confirmed cases are healthcare workers or public safety officers. I know this sudden increase in confirmed cases is alarming, and it should be taken seriously," the governor said. "But we have always said that our decisions will be guided not by singular occurrences, but by all the data we have."

The date for the much anticipated shifts toward "normalcy" will be released after further investigation and will heavily depend on the data collected over the upcoming two to three weeks, the governor said.

"Right now, the data indicates that we should remain in PCOR 2 but approach future decisions cautiously. It’s also important to note that contact tracing works. That is how these cases were discovered and it is a key factor in our ability to sustain PCOR 2," the governor said.

For now, the Department of Public Health will continue rigorously testing areas around the island with special focus on the elderly and other communities in need, government officials said.

With a crisis currently averted and COVID-19 positive numbers staying within acceptable bounds airports, beaches, and public parks will remain open to the public for proper and responsible use, the governor said.

With regard to the governor’s decision to remain in PCOR 2, she reminds us of the factors that led her to begin lifting restrictions in the first place. These four conditions include: the ability to conduct widespread testing, our hospitals being properly equipped and having proper capacity to hold and treat COVID-19 patients, the sustainment of a low number of positive cases over an extended period of time, and the ability to successfully utilize contact tracing.

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“Yes 11 is alarming, it is very alarming, but I don’t think just one set of data for one day is going to be cause for us to go back to PCOR 1, what I think this does is it reminds us that we are not out of the woods, it reminds us that again we do social distancing, that our social contacts are minimized.” Said the governor during her opening remarks.

Dr. Felix Cabrera, the governor's medical advisor, said that in order to return to total quarantine and mandatory home isolation a few requirements must be met.

First is the inflammation of positive cases to at least five cases a day for five days, and for this upward trend in infection to plateau or exponentially increase with the average of five serving as a baseline. This is the concept of the "five day rolling average."

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With the spike in mind, the island’s current five-day rolling average bottoms out to around 2.2 cases per day—which is well below the required five.

In addition to this statistic, the positivity rate (meaning: over the five day period, the percentage of individuals who tested positive relative to the sample size/ total number of tests conducted) must exceed 3 percent.

As a singular data point, May 20 reported 11 out of 64 individuals testing positive, marking a 17.18 percent positivity rate for that day. But when compiled with the larger data set including the four days prior, the positivity rate is shown to be around 1.52 percent.

Data gathered on May 20 indicated that the positive cases were focused in a tight cluster in the north, Cabrera said.

If positive cases started appearing at random with wide geographic distribution without proof of contact with an individual who had previously tested positive the situation would truly be dire and likely require immediate action.

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