Guam governor ups the ante on fight against 'the pandemic of unvaccinated'
Be sure to carry your vaccine card around when entering a business establishment or a public facility. Without a vaccine card or any proof of having completed your vaccine shots, you won’t be able to enter a restaurant or use the gym, or other public facilities for that matter.
Officials on Friday announced new restrictions— with corresponding fines for violations— amid the unabated spike in Covid-19 infections on Guam over the past weeks.
“I have repeatedly stated that I will not hesitate to reinstate restrictions to continue protecting our island. And today, we have come to that point,” Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said at Friday’s press conference, noting the sudden resurgence of Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations.
“In order to fully participate in society, you must do your part and get vaccinated. What we do as a community today will determine our physical and economic health,” the governor said.
As of Friday, Guam Memorial Hospital and Guam Regional Medical City have admitted 20 patients combined. Three are in ICU and one is on a ventilator.
The governor reinforced her call for the vaccine holdouts to roll up their sleeves and get the jabs, saying Guam is “fighting a much different pandemic than we were a year ago.”
“Today, we are battling a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” the governor said. “The data has consistently told us that 90 percent of hospital admissions are unvaccinated,” she added.
Dr. Felix Cabrera, the governor's medical advisor, said government numbers show that 18 of the 20 admissions are unvaccinated.
“Right now, we have 82 percent of the population who are vaccinated,” Cabrera said, adding that only a minority of the population— 22,000 — are unvaccinated.
“Even though they make up a small percentage of the population, they make up 90 percent of the hospital admissions,” Cabrera said. “What we are trying to highlight is that you are 30-times more likely to be hospitalized compared to those who are vaccinated. This is almost PCOR 1 for the unvaccinated and PCOR 3 for the rest of us who are vaccinated.”
“Our health care system is fragile. Our two hospitals are already filled to capacity with non-Covid related patients,” State Surgeon Dr. Mike Cruz said.
He said non-Covid patients have swarmed the hospitals because they were unable to get medical care last year when both facilities were focused on treating Covid patients.
While the hospitals are “the last line of defense,” Cruz said, the community formed the “first line of defense” and getting vaccinated can help curb the community transmission.
The governor said restricting the movement of the unvaccinated is an alternative to imposing another lockdown.
Effective Monday, Aug. 23, all business patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination to dine in at restaurants, bars and to enter public facilities.
In a statement issued after the press conference, Communications Director Krystal Paco San Agustin said, “While the vaccination mandate for establishments for the entrance of patrons goes into effect on Monday, Aug. 23, enforcement will commence at least two weeks from the effective date which will be on Monday, Sept. 6."
For the business staff, the new policy takes effect Sept. 27 at 8 a.m.
Besides restaurants and bars, the new policy applies to clubs, gyms, fitness centers, dance studios, movie theaters, food courts, sporting events, boat cruises, and other events.
The governor also reinstated the restrictions on social gatherings, allowing only 100 vaccinated people per event.
She warned that failure to comply with the new policy comes with corresponding fines.
For the first offense, individuals will be punishable by a fine of $100. For the second offense, individuals will be punishable by a fine of $250. For the third offense, and each additional violation thereafter, individuals will be punishable by a fine of $1,000.
For businesses and nonprofit organizations, failure to comply will be punishable by a fine of $1,000 for the first offense, and $2,500 for a second offense. For the third offense, and each additional violation thereafter, businesses and organizations will be punishable by a fine of $10,000.
As of Aug. 19, Guam had a total of 9,200 officially reported cases of Covid-19 with 144 deaths.
The number of cases surged shortly after the government lifted the restrictions on social gatherings on July 30, after hitting the target to inoculate 80 percent of the island’s adult population.
Health officials attributed the sudden increase to “a number of factors,” including the arrival of the highly transmissible Delta variant on Guam.
However, they said there is no evidence indicating that the arrival of unvaccinated travelers on Air V&V tours has contributed to the Covid spike.
Public Health Director Art San Agustin said Guam has seen 713 new cases in the past 30 days.
“Over 50 percent of these individuals who tested positive are not vaccinated,” San Agustin said.
The governor said Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez and the education board will decide on whether the schools will revert to distant learning.
“While there have been positive cases reported in our schools, Public Health data tells us there are no clusters among our student population. These cases originated from home, social gatherings, or out in the community,” Leon Guerrero said.
“For that reason, there will be no immediate changes for schools. But again, the best way to protect our children--most especially those not yet eligible to receive the vaccine--is to surround them with vaccinated people. This must start at home.”
Acceptable forms of vaccination verification include:
the CDC vaccination card, or similar documentation issued by another foreign governmental jurisdiction;
a photo or copy of a vaccination card as a separate document;
a photo of a vaccination card stored on a phone or electronic device;
documentation of vaccination from a healthcare provider;
printed WEB-IZ documentation of vaccination information; or
other proof as provided in applicable DPHSS guidance memoranda.