Changing into scrubs, Guam guards fighting war against Covid-19
Several members of the Guam National Guard have laid their fatigue uniforms aside, changed into their scrubs and positioned themselves for an unfamiliar battle.
These days, the GUNG soldiers and airmen, led by state surgeon Col. Mike Cruz, are on the front line of Guam’s war against the Covid-9 pandemic.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has activated the GUNG following her declaration of public health emergency in March as Guam confronts the coronavirus crisis.
Cruz is the governor’s chief medical advisor on issues and concerns regarding the Covid-19 outbreak.
The state surgeon cell is part of Task Force Medical, which falls under the GUNG’s Joint Task Force 671. Task Force Medical, in addition to the surgeon cell, also has more than 25 soldiers and airmen carrying out various medical missions throughout the island.
“My team and I are proud to serve our island as the governor’s state surgeon cell,” Cruz said. “The Guam National Guard along with other medical professionals and first responders stand at the frontline of our battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Our training and expertise in our military and civilian capacities allow us to perform our duties as citizen Soldiers and Airmen with the upmost professionalism.”
When Guam detected its first Covid-19 positive case on March 14, the surgeon cell developed isolation sites, implemented processes and procedures and organized manning. Under the establishment of Covid- 19 Unified Response Effort, or CURE, the surgeon cell led the effort to unify the island’s public and private medical capabilities all under one coordinated system.
“This coordinated system, established first among the United States, helped Guam flatten the curve of Covid-19 infection rates relative to other areas in the nation,” the GUNG Public Affairs Office said. ‘In a May 28 report from the National Guard Bureau, Guam held the second-longest sustained decreasing rate trajectories of all states, at 46 days in decline.”
On Monday, one new case of Covid -19 was identified through contact tracing and is associated with a significant cluster. One case recently traveled to the continental United States and was identified while staying in a government quarantine facility.
Both cases tested positive by polymerase chain reaction testing at the Guam Public Health lab and were asymptomatic at the time of testing.
To date, there have been 177 cases confirmed through COVID-19 testing provided with 5 deaths, 151 released from isolation, and 21 active cases.
“This virus is not specific to a particular person or group of people,” Cruz said. “Our entire island, our nation and our world is battling this pandemic together, and now more than ever it is important that we work together as partners to flatten the curve and possibly eradicate this virus.”
“Thanks to the professionalism and dedication of both our private and public partners, to include the soldiers and airmen of the Guam National Guard, the challenges have been met, and continue to be met,” said Sgt. Fernando Esteves, surgeon cell medical operations and logistics manager. “We all work together to execute the governor’s intent, both in current operations and future operations. We helped flatten the curve, and the best case scenario happened.”
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