The Department of Public Health and Social Services has suspended all construction projects effective Sept. 11 until further notice after identifying a significant cluster of Covid-19 positive cases in a barracks for a local construction company earlier this week.
Additional Covid-19 cases were identified among employees of two other construction companies. Guam's construction industry relies heavily on foreign labor and a significant portion of the construction workforce is housed in congregate settings.
These companies have worksites throughout the island, including on military installations, government of Guam projects, and local private sector projects.
Public health officials warned that the emergence of this cluster and the threat presented by the additional cases pose a significant danger to the public health of the construction workforce, industries associated with these projects, and the larger community, hence immediate action to protect against further spread.
The construction sector was initially marked as an essential activity exempted from the business closure order.
DPHSS said it will undertake a review of all operational plans and conduct site visits of congregate settings to ensure applicable DPHSS Guidance is complied with and to safeguard the health of the construction sector's workforce. DPHSS recognizes that construction is a critical component of our island's infrastructure and the suspension of construction activities is intended to be as limited in duration as possible.
All affected companies are advised that cooperation with DPHSS in this mandatory review and inspection process will permit the process to move expeditiously so that affected activities can resume quickly.
Officials warned that businesses that refuse to comply with the new directive may be subject to fines and/or the termination of business licenses, as well as any other penalties as may be available under Guam law.
DPHSS said it will enforce the new directive with the assistance of the Guam Police Department , Guam Fire Department , and other regulatory agencies of the Government of Guam, including the Department of Labor.
The infected construction workers were among the 17 newly reported cases today. Four cases were identified through contact tracing, according to the Joint Information Center.
To date, there have been a total of 1,863 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 23 deaths, 722 cases in active isolation, and 1,118 not in isolation. Of those cases, 1,614 are classified as civilians and 249 are military service members.