By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
CDC raises Guam's travel risk back to level 4
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has raised the risk alert for Guam back to level 4, as the island struggles to contain a new wave of Covid-19 infections.
Guam joins Puerto Rico, and five other countries that are on CDC's new "do not travel" list due to "very high" risk of exposure to Covid-19.
"Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to Guam," states the CDC's advisory.
The CDC's new travel risk alert for Guam poses another setback to the island's attempt to revive tourism, which was jumpstarted with the launch of Air V&V in July.
Carl Gutierrez, president of the Guam Visitors Bureau, said tourism is "very much affected" by the third wave of infections.
The last Air V&V charter flight from Taiwan arrived on Aug. 22.
"But we’re still hopeful we can continue mid-September since that’s our target date for the longer-term continuation that we’ve been exploring with Lion Travel and Eva Air," the former governor said.
"Both Lion Travel and Eva airlines initiated the scheduled longer term charters," he said. "We were to finalize tomorrow but alas we hit bottom. Not only Guam, but others in the tourism industry as well."
If Covid-19 numbers take several weeks to decline, Gutierrez said, GVB will shoot for October.
"It behooves all of us to do our part in bringing our infection numbers down by and encourage those unvaccinated in our community to be vaccinated," the former governor said. "Of course, those with valid compelling reasons not to be vaccinated should not be compelled to."
Guam is back where it was exactly a year ago. Schools shut down again and students are back in their little Zoom class nooks at home. Public crowds are subject to numerical limits again.
Even private gatherings at home are regulated by government directives. Only the vaccinated can gather, dine in at restaurants and “participate in society,” to quote Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero.
Just when everybody thought life was headed back to normal, Covid-19 sprang back with a vengeance, reversing what had been a steady flatline since December 2020.
Guam partially opened the border, welcoming hundreds of travelers with the Air V&V tour groups that seek to get vaccinated while on vacation. On July 31, the economy opened wider. The government lifted restrictions after hitting the goal of the Liberate Guam campaign to vaccinate 80 percent of the island’s adult population. But the island’s victory in the battle against Covid-19 proved short-lived.
Barely a week after the lifting of restrictions, Guam started seeing double-digit daily positive results. In a matter of days, daily triple-digit infections became commonplace. Hospital admissions spiked 300 percent as of the last week of August.