Counting coronavirus-related deaths has become a painful routine for the Guam Memorial Hospital in the past two weeks, with the 16th fatality reported this morning.
According to the Joint Information Center, the patient was a 49-year-old female with comorbidities that were compounded by Covid-19. She was admitted to GMH on Aug. 27 and passed away at 2:50 a.m. Sunday.
If a projection model followed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is accurate, Guam would expect a death toll of 52 by Nov. 1.
“The future is not set in stone: a single policy change or a small change in the assumptions can cause a large impact in how the epidemic progresses,” according to the CDC's Youyang Gu model.
As of Sept. 5, the number of Guam’s reported cases was 1,671, accounting for 1 percent of the island’s population. At least 50 are confined at GMH, with 11 in ICU and 10 on ventilators.
According to CDC’s Youyang Gu model, the number of actual cases on Guam is projected between as low as 2,479 and as high as 10,468.
The YYG model uses consolidated resources provided by Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study to set standard parameters such as incubation and infectious period.
Most of these parameters have a wide consensus among experts, such as the epidemiological assumptions.
" For example, we assume a 5-day incubation period (on average) and a 7-day infectious period (on average). These assumptions are probabilistic and roughly normally distributed. This means that an infected individual would be infectious between Day 2 to Day 8 after exposure, with Day 4-6 being the most infectious. For the purpose of calculating current infections, we assume an average individual is infected for 15 days. The exact values of the above parameters do not significantly change our projections," YYG said.
"Not everyone who are 'currently infected' are infectious. To get a sense of the number of individuals that are infectious, we recommend dividing the “currently infected” number by half. To get the number of individuals who are at peak infectiousness, we recommend dividing the 'currently infected' number by ~5."
In less than a week, Guam mourned the passing of five Covid-19 patients.
"It is with deep sadness that we must announce the passing of a 16th person to this virus. First Gentleman Jeff, Lt. Governor Josh, and I send our deepest condolences and sympathies to her family,” said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. “To the people of Guam, we each play a role in fighting this deadly virus. Stay home, wear our masks, and social distance. Let’s protect ourselves and our loved ones and together, we can save lives.”
At Friday's press conference, Leon Guerrero said the government is looking for another isolation facility besides the Skilled Nursing Unit in Barrigada Heights.
“There's still a need for an isolation facility,” she said. ”There’s still that need even though SNU is going to be a step-down unit. There are people who won’t necessarily need hospitalization and they have to be isolated. A lot of times, their family or home environment don’t allow for isolation.”
Dr. Lillian Posadas said the SNU, which has been designated earlier as an isolation facility, is ready to accommodate patients.
" It is ready for occupancy. The temporary chiller has been in place now,” she said. “It's keeping the facility comfortably cool. The various departments have already pretty much stocked the facility with medical equipment and whatever medical supplies needed," she said.
" Linens and beds are ready. We're going to occupy A-Wing first and that has 20 beds in that area. The plan is to try to get patients who are here who are very stable as far as their Covid condition who are not needing supplemental oxygen. That is the plan. The challenge we continue to be faced with is the staffing.”
To address the shrinking staff caused by Covid infections, Posadas said GMH has stepped up its nurses recruitment efforts.
The hospital recently hired 14 of the 26 graduates of the School of Nursing at the University of Guam.
“We've been continuously trying to recruit and retain nurses locally,” Posada said. “We've used a recruiting agency from Washington state who provides us with experienced critical care nurse for our ER and ICU. On a regular ongoing basis, they do provide us whenever we request.”