Covid-19 testings detected 52 new cases in just one week, and most of them were traced at funerals and bars, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said today.
The governor said the significant spike in numbers has prompted her to impose new restrictions and to extend the public health emergency indefinitely.
"While our test positivity rate remains below 2 percent, we are acting now to prevent a healthcare crisis before it begins. Until there is a COVID-19 vaccine, there is no “silver bullet” solution—only hard choices. And because of this increase in cases, I have had to make some hard decisions," the governor said.
Effective 6 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 8, social gatherings outdoors or in private accommodations will decrease from 50 to 25. Funerals will be limited to 10 people and only immediate family for viewing. Wakes will no longer be allowed in private homes. From these recent cases, many of these contacts have been traced to funeral gatherings. Public Health will issue further guidelines regarding these restrictions.
The governor also ordered bars to be closed for the next two weeks.
“Based on information received by Public Health and our contact tracing teams, bars congregate more broadly and in general have not exercised the same degree of compliance across the board,” the governor said.
Leon Guerrero also ordered a review of the current guidelines for bars and taverns and instructed public health officials to work with industry leaders to develop an effective plan.
“While dine-in restaurants will still be allowed, we are closely monitoring the situation and I ask all restaurant owners and patrons to not let your guard down,” the governor said.
The governor said contact tracing has been enhanced with additional 30 people for tracing and surveillance. “Our testing capacity is also increasing to ensure people are traced and tested quickly and efficiently. Announcements of future community testing outreaches will be made once confirmed,” she said.
Public Health will be enhancing compliance and enforcement of the minimum requirements for business operations and the wearing of face masks and social distancing. Businesses that are not compliant may be closed.
The Joint Information Center reported 14 new cases on Guam as of Friday. Twelve cases tested positive at the Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS). One case tested positive at Diagnostic Laboratory Services (DLS). One case tested positive at Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH).
Of the 12 cases that tested positive at DPHSS, one case had recently traveled to the continental U.S. and was identified in a quarantine facility, eight cases were identified through contact tracing, and one case was identified through community screening. The remaining cases are currently under investigation.
To date, there have been a total of 411 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with five deaths, 321 released from isolation, and 85 active cases. Of those cases, 362 are classified as civilians and 49 are military service members.
On Thursday, JIC said eight recently confirmed cases are currently under investigation. Among the six cases confirmed by the DPHSS, one case had recent travel to the continental US, two cases were identified through contact tracing, and three cases were identified through community screening.
The governor signed an executive order relative to the implementation of additional safety measures and issuance of temporary teaching certifications during the public health emergency. Executive Order No. 2020-26 mandates:
The temporary closure of bars and taverns. Effective 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 8, 2020 through 6:00 p.m., Saturday, August 22, 2020 – or unless modified by a further Executive Order upon the recommendation from the Department of Public Health and Social Service (DPHSS).
Limitations on wake and funeral services. Effective at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 8, 2020, funeral and wake services will be limited in operation by applicable Public Health Guidance. Such Guidance will include a prohibition on wake services in private residences, occupancy limitations for facilities hosting funerals or wakes, and a prohibition on food service at funerals and wakes.
Occupancy Limit. Any place of business, place of worship, or public accommodation may continue operations as permitted under applicable DPHSS Guidance, provided such establishment operates at no greater than fifty percent (50%) seating capacity or up to ten (10) people, whichever is greater. In no instance may a business, place of worship or public accommodation operate at an occupancy that is greater than its regular occupancy limit.
Mandatory Social Distancing. All permissible activities shall be conducted utilizing mitigation measures, including, but not limited to, social distancing and posting of appropriate signage; frequent cleaning of all surfaces, mandating the wearing of masks unless engaged in physical exercise or eating; and permitting or encouraging teleworking. All permissible activities are further subject to applicable DPHSS Guidance. Older residents and those with pre-existing medical conditions are encouraged to limit excursions of any kind.
Gatherings or Congregations. A "congregation" or "social gathering" is a meeting for a common or singular purpose of more than one (1) person where the individuals are not members of a single household unit. Effective at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 8, 2020, gatherings and congregations, including, but not limited to, gatherings outdoors or in private accommodations, shall be limited to no more than twenty-five (25) persons.
Additional Caution Against Unnecessary Activity and Off-island Travel. Guam residents are encouraged to exercise caution when engaging in non-essential activities and discouraged from unnecessary travel off-island to any destination.
Temporarily Suspending The PRAXIS-1 Examination Requirement in 5A GAR Ch. 8 § 8105(a)(1). The requirement in 5A GAR Ch. 8 § 8105(a)(l) that applicants for temporary teaching certificates present evidence of a passing score on the PRAXIS-1 examination in order to meet the minimum requirements for issuance of such certificate is suspended for Guam Department of Education ("GDOE") school year 2020-2021. The GCEC may issue a temporary teaching certificate to new applicants who present evidence of completion of a bachelor's degree. The length of certification for the temporary teaching certificate issued under this Section shall be one (l) year, and shall expire at the end date for GDOE school year 2020-2021. In addition to the requirements of 5A GAR Ch. 8 § 8105(a)(3), applicants receiving a temporary teaching certificate under this Section shall be required to complete the PRAXIS-1 examination in order to receive a renewal following the GDOE school year 2020-202l. Applicants receiving a temporary teacher certificate for school year 2020-202l under this Section will be eligible for renewal two (2) times, subject to fulfillment of the requirements of 5A GAR Ch. 8 § 8l05(a)(3).
Prior Executive Orders remain in effect and in full force, except to the extent they conflict with Executive Order No. 2020-26.
More details to follow