Health cannot be put on hold
Lift restrictions on people's access to fitness centers
The latest information provided by the Department of Public Health to the general public has shown that this is a pandemic of underlying health conditions.
This is not about blame or shame, akin to what has been unfairly done to those unvaccinated. Based on the reports, it is clear that “underlying health conditions” is the common denominator in hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19.
For an island population of 170,000, Guam has one of the highest rates in the nation of heart disease, diabetes, and chronic liver and kidney disease. These conditions are known co-morbidities that increase the likelihood of negative outcomes if Covid-19 is contracted.
There are 12 dialysis centers on our small island, servicing those with chronic kidney disease.
Roughly 19 percent of our population has Type 2 Diabetes. When left untreated, Type 2 diabetes directly contributes to heart disease, which is the leading cause of death on Guam.
Other risk factors for heart disease include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity, all of which are considered “lifestyle diseases.”
Roughly two-thirds of Guam’s population are considered either overweight or obese. Obesity is linked to chronic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer. These four non-communicable diseases account for 60 percent of total deaths on Guam.
A new study released from Tufts University estimates 64 percent of adult Covid-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. could have been prevented if not for, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and heart failure.
Another study conducted by researchers at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in California tracked the previous two years of exercise habits of 50,000 Covid-19 patients. Those who were inactive were found to be three times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those who had consistently exercised.
British Journal of Sports Medicine found that regular exercise has a notable protective effect from contracting Covid-19 infection. Further, regular exercise slashes the risk of severe covid infection, hospitalization, and death.
The CDC reported, of 540,000 Covid-19 patients from 800 U.S. hospitals, it found that the number one risk factor of death was obesity; the second reported leading risk factor was anxiety and fear-related disorders. Exercise, especially in an environment of motivation, encouragement, and support, provides reversible benefits for both obesity and stress.
Based on the numbers provided, Covid-19 has a 99 percent rate of recovery. Out of a population of 170,000, Guam has reported 17,764 cases (10 percent of the total population). Of those cases, there were 223 reported deaths (0.01 percent of total cases, and 0.001 percent of the total population).
Eighty percent of cases are reported to be mild or asymptomatic. Currently, Guam has an 87 percent vaccination rate among the eligible population, one of the highest in the nation.
Guam also has a high rate of breakthrough cases of individuals who have been fully vaccinated. We are now seeing that breakthrough cases in Guam account for roughly 40 percent of hospital admissions, and roughly 30 percent of deaths.
More importantly, among all deaths, vaccinated or not, 98 percent of those individuals were reported to have underlying conditions or multiple co-morbidities.
Additionally, Guam has not had a medical examiner for about two years now, so there is no confirmation on the exact cause of death among those classified and reported as Covid-19 deaths.
Prior to the latest executive order and vaccine mandate, Guam had already met its target of 80 percent of the eligible population being fully vaccinated. All residents were “in this together.”
For over 18 months, we had been through two waves and we made it through those waves by reducing capacity in establishments, limiting gatherings, social distancing, and practicing proper hygiene, together.
In August we saw the surge of the delta variant emerge, and among the 1765 Covid-positive tests conducted during August, 554 (31 percent) were fully vaccinated, or breakthrough cases. Hospitalizations were on the rise. This prompted for some action to be taken that would reduce the spread, and reduce the burden on the hospitals.
The executive order put a limit on gatherings of vaccinated individuals and restricted unvaccinated individuals from all gatherings, indoors and outdoors, including dining at restaurants, exercising at fitness centers, and being allowed to continue working.
The unvaccinated were faced with the threat of termination from work or subjected to weekly nasal swab testing.
Meanwhile, cases, hospitalizations and deaths continued to surge all through September and into October. Among the hospitalizations and deaths, the common denominator, vaccinated or not, has been underlying health conditions.
Meanwhile, vaccinated individuals, who are able to spread the virus as well, are free to continue to work, dine at restaurants, and exercise at gyms. While the unvaccinated have been limited in their movement and participation in society, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continued to rise.
As we reach the two-month mark since the mandate was issued, we are seeing a plateau and on some days a decrease in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. This is the natural pattern of every surge we’ve seen.
In the response to our letter requesting to lift the vaccine mandate from fitness centers, one point that was made is that “we don’t have the luxury of time,” and that “Covid-19 is NOW.”
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This was in regards to our request to put healthy lifestyle choices at the forefront of fighting all diseases, including Covid-19.
Over the past 17 years, I have seen a dramatic transformation happen within weeks of implementation of individuals partaking in exercise/fitness classes, and most especially those participating in nutrition/detox programs.
I, myself, experienced a similar transformation 20 years ago, after a health opportunity gave way for my change in lifestyle and diet. Imagine what health transformations could have been made in the past 18 months if this was included as the main focus. We could have possibly reduced overall hospitalizations and deaths.
It is not too late! We can still do this collectively.
Our bodies have a miraculous capacity for optimum health when provided with the essential elements. Regardless of our past actions and/or nonactions, if we take steps now, health can be regained and maintained now!
Studies are showing that the rates of obesity have risen dramatically since the beginning of lockdowns due to the pandemic. The rise is especially significant in children.
Guam has also seen a rise in suicides and mental health deterioration. Suicide was already a leading cause of death on Guam, the highest in the nation.
Restricting people from access to fitness centers is having a detrimental effect on our overall island community health, physically and mentally. The lack of health and fitness access and promotion could be a contributing factor in the rise of hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19, vaccinated or not.
There needs to be a reconsideration on requiring vaccination (which comes with its own risks) for fitness and wellness center employees and patrons, especially with reduced capacity and strict protocols for disinfection of facilities. The health of our island as a whole depends on access to health services, including fitness and wellness centers.
We can reduce the overall effect of Covid-19 on our island by improving the overall health of our island people.
The time is now. Health cannot be put on hold, especially during a pandemic, when our health is our biggest defense. The unnecessary and harmful segregation of the unvaccinated must end now, so we can get back to reaching optimum health together.
We have an opportunity to make a positive change toward the future of our island’s health. Where will we be 18 months from now? We can get healthy, together. Our health is now!
Clare Calvo is the owner of Synergy Wellness and Synergy Studios.