New Covid surge linked to waning immunity; DPHSS on alert for 'triggers'
Updated: Jun 24, 2022
By Aurora Kohn
Changes in Guam's Covid-19 positivity rate and the number of new infections will set the criteria for “triggers” that would prompt the Department of Public Health and Social Services to recommend certain mandates, officials said today.
These triggers include a seven-day rolling average of at least 100 new cases per day, at least 20 hospital admissions and 10 ICU cases.
“We are planning the response and we're monitoring the data so that we never hit these triggers because that’s when we know that there is a surge,” said Vince Campo, surveillance branch director for Covid-19 at DPHSS.
The island’s current seven-day rolling average is at 88 per day, with seven patients in the hospitals and no patients in the ICU. Deaths continued to be sporadic.
Campo said DPHSS anticipated an increase in infection rates following the lifting of the mask mandate.
Dr. Robert Leon Guerrero, interim chief medical officer of DPHSS, said besides the lifting of restrictions, the rise in the number of new cases can be attributed partly to the waning immunity provided by the Covid vaccines or a previous infection.
Because of this, he said, it is important to get booster shots and for those 50 years old and above, to get their second booster shot.
Today, the health department reported 75 new cases of Covid-19 from 864 specimens collected on June 22. Of today's total, 23 were reported through the Department of Defense.
The department reported 122 new cases on June 22 out of 1,160 specimens collected.
To date, there have been a total of 51,084 officially reported cases, 371 deaths and 469 cases in active isolation.
Test positivity was “skyrocketing," Campo said. “It was close to 16 percent and actually surpassed that a little bit but now it’s actually dropping down to around 9 percent, hovering around 10 percent."
He said testing was averaging around 1,000 tests per day with more positive patients not exhibiting any symptoms.
The department's latest report indicated a “big spike” in the number of new Covid-19 infections among the 60–74 age group, and an increase in the 75-and-older age group. DPHSS is concerned because both of these age groups are considered “vulnerable” due to a weaker immune system.
“The 60 to 74-year-old case rate has basically overtaken that 40 to 59, which is usually the second leading case rate. This is something that we haven’t normally seen since the beginning of this pandemic so we highly encourage to practice these mitigation strategies: wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your distance,” Campo said.
Leon Guerrero and Campo encouraged the Guam community to continue to wear masks when around other people, in order to safeguard the health of those around them, including family members who are elderly, immunocompromised or have comorbidities.
Leon Guerrero also encouraged those experiencing symptoms to see their doctors immediately and obtain prescriptions for antivirals and monoclonal antibodies that are available to Covid-19 patients free of charge.
He also encouraged parents to talk to their pediatricians about vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5-year-old. He said that while most children do not present with serious illness and are more of the asymptomatic type, young children serve as the conduit for the virus to be transmitted to more vulnerable relatives.
“It’s not so much young people getting sick so much as them spreading it,” said Leon Guerrero.