Guam epidemiologist: 'Covid is not done with us'
By Aurora Kohn
The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services today reminded the public that the Covid-19 pandemic is not over despite the continuing low numbers of new infections.
“Truly, Covid is not done with us. We are mentally and emotionally ready to be done with Covid, but unfortunately, it is not ready to quit us yet,” said Dr. Annette David, senior epidemiologist for Guam's State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup.
Dr. Ann Pobutsky, Guam’s territorial epidemiologist, reported that the rolling seven-day average of new infections for Guam as of May 17 was less than 30 cases, most of which are asymptomatic.
Testing continued to decline and the seven-day rolling average test positivity was under 5 percent. Covid-19 infections across age groups continued to converge but there was slight departure for the age group 60-74 in early May showing a slight increase.
Hospitalizations and ICU cases continued to decrease and deaths occurred but were “sporadic”.
As of May 18, Guam has had a total of 468, 819 Covid-19 infections with 361 total deaths. Total cases in active isolation was at 206 with 48,044 cases not in active isolation. Of the 206 cases in active isolation, four were in hospitals, 171 in home isolation and 31 in the military.
DPHSS officials said the actual number of new Covid-19 infections may be as much as four times higher than the recorded cases because some patients do not report their symptoms or results of their home tests or do not get tested at all.
“CDC studied this and nationally, they estimate that only one in every four actual cases are reported or identified," said Fernando Esteves, incident commander for DPHSS.
This fact, coupled with most patients not exhibiting symptoms posed a special danger to persons who are more vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19, such as the elderly and those who are immunocompromised or have comorbidities.
Dr. Robert Leon Guerrero, DPHSS interim chief medical officer, said these individuals should take precautions and be extra vigilant.
“Number one, make sure you’re boosted. Number two, I would still recommend wearing masks, especially if you’re going to be travelling. And number three, if you feel ill, get checked. Don’t think that it’s a mild case of the flu or a cold, because it can escalate and all of a sudden, you can become really ill and you could be admitted," Leon Guerrero said.
"If you feel sick, get tested and then you can be given the monoclonal antibodies or oral antiviral. Those really cut down symptoms of Covid and you’re less likely to be admitted or come in DOA,” he said.
He also added that the DPHSS recommends that the community continue to observe social distancing and wash their hands frequently.
Esteves said patients who have positive test results, even from home tests, are qualified to receive treatment such as monoclonal antibodies.
Persons who test positive using a home test are encouraged to obtain a confirmatory test and to report their test results to DPHSS. Confirmatory tests are not required for treatment such as monoclonal antibodies. Patients with positive tests are encouraged to obtain treatment as soon as possible.
DPHSS today reported 55 new positive cases from 594 specimens analyzed May 18. Of this tally, 19 were reported through the Department of Defense.
The department's Division of Senior Citizens, in partnership with the Mayors’ Council of Guam, is now offering second doses of the Covid-19 booster to adults 50 years of age and older, or to individuals 12 years and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, at Senior Citizens Centers across the island.
All eligible individuals are encouraged to get their second booster shots.