Updated: Aug 22
No card-no entry policy draws mixed reactions
“In order to fully participate in society, you must do your part and get vaccinated,” Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said Friday announcing a new policy that seeks to restrict the movement of the unvaccinated.
The announcement was greeted with mixed reactions from the community, some welcoming the new policy, others decrying what they call a curtailment of civil liberties.
Health Director Art San Agustin said the new policy was “a necessary response to curb further Covid-transmission.”
But an employee at a public health laboratory described the new policy as “ridiculous,” disclosing that some of those endorsing the vaccine are not vaccinated themselves.
“I have people at work, vaccinated and non-vaccinated, who are highly against this mandate. It feels like an invasion of privacy,” said the employee who requested anonymity. “The supervisor at the lab started to see red flags when he noticed some scientists in the lab weren't getting vaccinated, or they were against it. That was funny.”
Communications Director Krystal Paco San Agustin said "Public Health is 90 percent vaccinated already. And GovGuam employees still have until next month to get fully vaccinated."
Starting Sept. 6, individuals will be required to show proof of vaccination in order to enter the public sphere, including restaurants as well as recreational and fitness facilities.
Claire Calvo, owner of Synergy Studios, opposed the new policy, saying her company “upholds a non-discriminatory open-door policy for all."
“We respect individual freedom of choice and we are here to assist all in obtaining and/or maintaining holistic health and wellness. While health and safety protocols are strictly followed, so are constitutional rights,” Calvo stated on her widely shared Facebook post.
The governor said she was confident her new policy could withstand any legal challenge, saying it is within her public health emergency authority.
Some residents welcome the new policy.
“I think the new mandate is stringent but necessary,” said Peter Cruz, a student at the University of Guam. “We’ve done a great job of keeping our cases down, so now we must get creative and work together to get the last of our population vaccinated. I’d hate to see our situation worsen after we’ve all done our part and come so far in beating the virus."
Dr. Felix Cabrera said government statistics from January to August show that 90 percent of those admitted to hospitals were unvaccinated individuals.
“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 percent 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.”
An emergency medical technician, who requested that she be identified only as "Mai," said she understands the rationale behind the government restrictions but noted that the implementation of some of them is flawed.
“I also understand the amazing science behind the vaccine and how it is important for the majority of a population to get vaccinated and develop antibodies to encourage the formation of herd immunity, which is good for those who have vulnerable immune systems while lessening the intensity of the disease for those who become infected," Mai said.
As a frontliner, Mai said she is frustrated with the community's carelessness during the pandemic.
“The general public doesn't understand that the vaccine doesn't make you invincible to the virus and the media doesn't help either by generating fear (and very likely prejudice for the unvaccinated along with that),” Mai said.
While saying she personally doesn’t like the restrictions which “slow everything down,” Mai said they are a necessary option.
“I'm pretty sure it's an infringement of a person's rights to force anyone to get vaccinated if they don't want to be vaccinated...but at the same time it's infuriating that these same people will likely end up begging for the vaccine if they get infected and they need to be intubated because their lungs stop working at a life-sustaining capacity.”
Mai also thinks entrance checks are "a waste of time" and a waste of medical equipment.
“I also don't like temperature checks because there are people who have tested positive that were asymptomatic. It frustrates me to see people hoarding medical supplies too when actual frontliners have to ration,” Mai said.
“Either way, what is left of the burnt-out healthcare workers from the last few waves will continue to help treat whoever needs to be treated whether they are vaccinated or not. A vaccine card means nothing (except for maybe statistics) once you're seeking treatment," Mai said.