Management of information during a crisis has holes that need to be plugged. This is one of the lessons learned by the government of Guam during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the age when everybody has access to the social media platform, the public gets flooded with unverified information and fake news, which the Joint Information Center rushes to correct.
“I think area of improvement will always making sure to communicate, communicate, communicate, communicate. Because the more we teach and communicate to our people, the better I think we will be effectively instituting and implementing our program and our plans,” Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said. “People need to understand that information from an official entity is what they should be following, what they should be using. It’s very important to be coordinated, organized and working together.”
Public Health Director Linda Unpingco-DeNorcey agreed. ““I like to add in terms of communication is getting the right messages out—factual information so that the public knows what is correct and what is real,” she said.
Dr. Mike Cruz, head of the governor's medical advisory council, said the Covid-19 pandemic underscored the need for Guam to be more sustainable.
"Because of our geographic isolation, the fact that our ocean is a barrier to not only a novel virus coming here, but a barrier to any help coming here, so as any island we need to do more efforts toward self-reliance and being able to be supportive of ourselves,” Cruz said.
Cruz added that Guam can also learn from looking back at history-- in 1918 with the Spanish flu. “A visiting Naval boat from the Philippines came we thought maybe we were immune to that, maybe we were isolated from that. But you know what 1.5 percent of our population died at that time,” he said.
“Furthermore, what we could learn was that first wave of the Spanish Flu killed maybe four to five million people throughout the world, but it was the second wave that ended up killing almost 50 million of the people. So we have to be prepared, we have to be resilient. We have to make sure that as we open back up our island, we’re not going to get back into another second wave.”
For her part, the governor said the pandemic has also opened up new discoveries for her.
“I learned we have a lot of good talented people in government that have stepped up and made the commitment to fight this virus. I learned that we have to be very quick in our decisions,” Lou Leon Guerrero said.
“I learned that we need to have more control in terms of quarantining and isolating. I learned that we have to be very adamant about not allowing people into our island that are from hotspots. I learned that we identified the source of the contact, which is a traveler from the Philippines and because of that we made the decision to mandatorily quarantine people who are coming in. I learned that by taking those very strict measures, we are successful where we’re at.”
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