- By Ethan Perez
Governor eases restrictions; lockdown order remains in place
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero today announced the easing of some Covid-19-related restrictions, while Guam remains under Pandemic Condition of Readiness 1.
"Truthfully, our case positivity rate is gradually on the decline. Covid hospitalization census is gradually decreasing. We know this extended isolation period has affected everyone but there are additional needs that must be accommodated," the governor said a press conference today.
"Based on the available health and mobility data and guidance from the State Surgeon Cell, I am announcing the relaxation of some restrictions—recognizing that we must manage this virus as best we can, not simply let the virus manage us," she added.
Some businesses that have been closed following the PCOR1 announcement on Aug. 14 will be allowed to resume operations at limited capacity. "However, we are highly encouraging teleworking as much as possible," the governor said.
She advised the community, however, that Guam remains under a safe-at-home advisory. "We still encourage everyone, especially vulnerable people, to stay at home and to limit their contact with people outside of their households," the governor said.
Noting that some activities pose a greater risk of transmission than others, the governor said the government is not ready allow the resumption of all activities such as social gatherings and sports events that involve bodily contact.
"But, my Recovery Panel of Advisors and the Physician Advisory Group are currently working on a timeline for the phased-in reopening of Guam. The data is being reviewed constantly and a number of options and safety protocols are being considered," Leon Guerrero said.
Guam's current positivity rate is over 10 percent.
To date, there have been a total of 2,235 officially reported cases of Covid-19 with 37 deaths, 655 cases in active isolation, and 1,543 not in active isolation. Of those cases, 1,968 are classified as civilians and 267 are military service members. A total of 110 who tested positive had travel history to the U.S.
Beginning tomorrow, Sept. 25, at noon, the following restrictions will apply:
-Retail stores and personal care, such as hair, nails, tattoo shops, and pet grooming, may operate at 25 percent capacity
-Basic restrictions such as 6-feet social distancing, wearing masks, and no congregating must be followed
-For malls, all common areas will remain closed and no congregating will be allowed
-In-restaurant dining is still prohibited but outdoor dining will be allowed. Outdoor dining is restricted to those in the same household only with a maximum of six people and there must be a minimum 6-ft distance between each table.
-Solitary and non-contact sports and sport facilities, such as firing ranges, individual water sports and water sport services, scuba diving, golf, and tennis will be permitted.
-General office work and other services may resume under certain restrictions. Face-to-face contact for businesses are by appointment only. No waiting rooms or congregating is allowed.
Services at funeral homes remain at no more than 10 occupancy and limited to immediate family and single household units.
All must maintain a customer listing to assist with Public Health contact tracing efforts. All permitted businesses and activities must adhere to DPHSS guidance.
The governor also announced the implementation of revised quarantine protocols. Effective noon on Saturday, Sept. 26, all incoming travelers will be quarantined at a government facility. On Day 6, they will be administered a test and upon receiving a negative test result, they will be allowed to continue their quarantine at home.
"PCOR 1 is not and will not be a permanent state," the governor said. "But in order for us to move to the next stage, everyone needs to do their part. We are each responsible for our own individual actions. And our individual actions directly impact what happens to us as a community. As we continue our response, I assure you that we are using whatever tools we have to flatten the curve."
With PCOR1 restrictions once again being eased, the governor reminds the island to take care and stay safe during this trying time.
"We need to remember that our new normal isn't normal at all. As restrictions are relaxed we cant have business as usual; (or) life as we know it—take precautions or we risk returning to total lockdown once more. "
On the new quarantine procedures, Lt. Gov Josh Tenorio said, "We are heading back again into a very structured reopening—the quarantine posture is there for a reason not only it is there to protect everybody on Guam but its also there to protect everybody coming back.
Public Health Director Arthur San Agustin offered further insight into the due process based on the Superior Court of Guam's order regarding the travel quarantine. "This week new stipulations have been implemented to ensure passengers understand their rights to submit to voluntary quarantine in a government facility," he said. "Should there be any indications that a passenger is uncomfortable with that during processing at the airport they will then be offered the notice of involuntary quarantine which will be accompanied by article six and its definitions."
The governor asked the community for patience. "This pandemic has been our life for the better part of the year and I know many of you are experiencing quarantine fatigue this isn't unique to Guam; across the nation people are not staying home like they did in March and April," she said.
Leon Guerrero noted the clashing facts between the economy and public health.
"I recognize the plight of the small businesses. I certainly recognize that our economic health has been affected significantly, and I also recognize that this virus has killed 38 of our people—I have to weigh a balance and make sure that my decisions are made for the priorities of the circumstances at that point in time."
In order to protect the delicate balance that has been achieved by adhering to current Covid19 preventative measures.
At the Guam Memorial Hospital, administrator Lillian Posadas said GMH has contracted with New West, which operates broadly within the U.S. to help augment the staff.
"It is a traveling professional healthcare recruitment company that aids its customers by providing medical staffing. We got 33 nurses just two days. (with more to come)," Posadas said.
She said GMH has also partnered with the Guam Regional Medical City to allow "the decompression of GMH." This process frees up normal and ICU beds via relocation, thus dually providing higher operational capacity and negating possible spread to vulnerable patients.