Sudden Covid spike triggered by holiday gatherings and omicron variant
Updated: Jan 5, 2022
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Tuesday renewed her call for Guam residents to get tested, get vaccinated and get boostered as the island began seeing a post-holiday Covid surge, which she said might have been triggered by the omicron variant.
The governor issued the new public reminder on the heels of a sudden spike in coronavirus cases on Guam after several weeks of reporting single-digit test results.
The Department of Public Health and Social Services reported 210 positive Covid-19 cases, the highest single-day case since Oct. 29, 2021. Guam had 111 cases at the tail end of the last surge.
The escalation of new infections after Christmas and New Year was expected due to increased travel and gatherings, the governor said.
“Paired with the emergent and highly transmissible omicron variant, this development is likely what we are seeing today,” she added.
"Although our island does not currently have the specialized expertise needed to identify specific variants, we remain in constant communication with U.S. health officials to determine and address omicron’s presence in our community," the governor said.
As of Tuesday, Guam had 11 Covid hospital admissions.
While none of the Covid patients were receiving ICU level of care or on a ventilator, Leon Guerrero expressed concern over the trend of patients dying before reaching the hospital.
“Two out of the three deaths reported on Monday tested positive the same day they were dead on arrival to the hospital. This could mean they were unaware of the severity of their symptoms or they waited until it was too late to act,” she said.
The governor echoed public health officials and doctors' advice for residents not to wait "until it’s too late."
"Look for emergency warning signs. Seek emergency care immediately or call 911 if you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face," she said.
Following is the transcript of Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's message.
Håfa Adai! On Tuesday, we reported 210 positive Covid-19 cases, our highest case count in a single day since October 29, 2021, when we reported 111 cases at the tail end of our last surge. At the time of this recording, there are 11 Covid hospital admissions, none of whom are receiving ICU level of care or are on a ventilator. Our CAR score is 22.2. As Public Health officials forecasted, surges in positive cases often follow holidays such as Christmas and New Year due to increased travel and gatherings. Paired with the emergent and highly transmissible omicron variant, this development is likely what we are seeing today. Although our island does not currently have the specialized expertise needed to identify specific variants, we remain in constant communication with U.S. health officials to determine and address omicron’s presence in our community. After beating three surges, our people know what to do. We know how we can move stronger. We know how we can move smarter. We know how we can move safer. We can do so much to prevent our hospital from running out of beds, to prevent unnecessary loss of life, and to prevent our health care workers from being overwhelmed. If only we realize ahead of time, Now, what is asked of us to preserve the health of our families and our island. We will act quickly to save lives. As we have acknowledged, my administration and our expert professionals in healthcare have been very closely monitoring our cases and transmission trends since the outbreak of the omicron variant in South Africa two months ago. Two out of the three deaths reported on Monday tested positive the same day they were Dead on Arrival to the hospital. This could mean they were unaware of the severity of their symptoms or they waited until it was too late to act. I am concerned about this trend, but I am more confident in our protective measures to minimize hospitalizations and severe illness and prevent deaths. As students, educators and support staff are returning to school, and as many others are returning to work after the holidays, we must act with sincerity and vigilance. Please. For your health and those who love you. Do not wait until it’s too late. Look for emergency warning signs. Seek emergency care immediately or call 911 if you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.
Please. For your health and those who love you. Get vaccinated and get boosted. Nearly 130,000 of us have done our parts to get fully vaccinated, including over 12,000 teens and about 5,000 children. But only roughly 39-thousand booster shots have so far been administered. This tells us that many people still need a boost, especially if it has been six months or more since your last Covid vaccine. And the opportunity to get your vaccine or booster remains available at no cost and is widely accessible through Public Health’s vaccination clinics. Which recently has been expanded in partnership with the Guam Department of Education and will be made available at certain schools, after hours, starting this week. Taking these steps, in addition to seeking Covid-19 monoclonal antibody treatment, are our best defense to overcome this deadly virus. And so we are pleading with you to take them for your protection. On our end, we remain committed to stopping the spread of this virus with every resource we have at our disposal. This includes having our healthcare responders execute the three T’s of our trusted approach: We test. We track. And we treat. We resumed public testing six days a week from 8 am to 11 am Monday to Saturday at the Old Carnival Grounds in Tiyan and starting next week, we will expand testing hours. If you have been exposed to a positive case or if you are experiencing symptoms, I am urging you to quarantine and get tested immediately. On Tuesday, Public Health began administering brand new Cue Covid-19 test kits. This test is completely free of charge and helps make our operations more efficient to get your results faster and easier with access through a text message. With increased testing, we are taking prompt action to track the contacts of positive cases, minimize transmission rates, and identify new cases quicker than before. On top of enhanced testing and tracking,we also have the tools to help people get better faster. Since September of last year, we have been providing monoclonal antibody therapy at our hospitals and the Mangilao Senior Citizens Center. So far, we have treated over 1-thousand people who know the benefits of this treatment. This therapy lowers your risk of developing severe symptoms and needing hospitalization. And it will make a great difference for people who have comorbidities or compromised immune systems. A year ago, we did not have this life-saving treatment. We did not have these advanced test kits. And all of these measures that we introduced, refined and revamped, are game-changers that will guarantee us putting our best foot forward.
As I have said before, we must take urgency and respond to Omicron as if it is a Super Typhoon. Like putting up shutters and securing our homes, we must reinforce wearing our masks, Washing our hands, and Watching our distance - in addition to getting the vaccine, booster, and treatment.
With these important tools and guiding strategies as our protection, we can and will move stronger, smarter and as people unite for the common good. People who put lives first. People who can and will prevail, again and again.
May God guide us all and may God bless Guam.