By Aurora Kohn
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero formally lifted the requirement to wear masks indoors, in an announcement first made late Monday night and went into effect after midnight.
The governor reiterated her announcement in a special address before a crowd at the Adelup grounds this morning.
The lifting of the remaining Covid-19 mandate, a long-awaited milestone in
Guam’s fight against the Covid 19 virus, was prompted by the “culmination of four weeks of a sustained low level of Covid 19 community risk” marked by consistently low numbers of new infections and low levels of hospitalizations, “none of whom are receiving ICU level of care."
Leon Guerrero recognized that Guam’s success in limiting Covid 19 infections and deaths was a collective effort.
“Collectively, we have been able to overcome every wave of this virus – every tsunami and typhoon it could throw at us. And this was the only because of each and every one of you, the people of Guam. Today is your day," she said.
Leon Guerrero said her decision to lift the remaining mask mandate was guided by “science and data” just as all previous decisions made by her administration in dealing with the pandemic.
She acknowledged that Guam is now better equipped with “numerous tools” to protect residents and visitors from the pandemic and that her administration will continue to employ these tools in ensuring continued protection for Guam against the pandemic.
She encouraged residents, especially those who are immunocompromised, elderly and or have co-morbidities to continue to use the tools available to them, such as continued mask-wearing and vaccinations and booster shots, to protect themselves from the Covid 19 virus, even if these measures are now a matter of individual choice.
She also said businesses are free to employ their own measures to ensure continued protection for Guam, even if restrictions were no longer in place.
“Let me emphasize that as we lift this final mandate, we must bear in mind that the battle is not yet over. The world is still experiencing a global pandemic, but it is because of Guam’s progress, reduced case reports and low hospitalizations -that we can cautiously enter this transitional phase,” Leon Guerrero said.
According to the governor, the science and data presented to her at the beginning of the pandemic indicated that Guam could lose as many as 3,000 lives.
She said she could not allow more people to die of Covid 19 than the number of CHamoru who died during World War II. She said that Guam’s success in limiting the number of deaths from the pandemic is another reason to celebrate Guam’s 78th Liberation Day.
“ How can we stand to watch our manamko’ who survived the war, suffer through another crisis? The short answer is we could not.”
Leon Guerrero did not forget to acknowledge the contribution of those she referred to as “healthcare heroes” – doctors and nurses, hospital and healthcare workers, and their support staff.
“For your service and sacrifice, we certainly cannot thank you enough. But our island will keep thanking you, our people will keep honoring you, and history books will have a special place for your compassionate legacy,” she said.
While the mandatory use of masks indoors on the island has ended, Guam Memorial Hospital will continue enforcing its mask mandate until further notice.
"We will evaluate this policy on a regular basis, while monitoring community spread and factoring in federal CDC recommendations when making any policy updates," GMH said.
As we cannot guarantee that everyone coming to our hospital is Covid-19 -negative, our facilities will continue requiring mask-wearing to protect all of our staff, patients and visitors."