From left, Public Health Director Linda Unpingco-DeNorcey, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, JRM Commander Rear Adm. John Menoni and 36th Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Gentry Boswell
Service members found to have violated public health emergency protocols will face court martial, military officials said Monday as they announced an ongoing investigation into the spread of Covid-19 at Andersen Air Force Base.
“Preliminary evidence and public health investigation revealed the possibility that some of these service members did not adhere to the Andersen Air Force Base and local public health directives,” said Brig. Gen. Gentry W. Boswell, commander of the 36th Wing.
As of June 22, Guam has 222 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with five deaths, 173 released from isolation and 44 active cases. Of the total number, 180 are classified as civilians and 42 are military service members—35 of whom have been recently identified among a unit deployed to AAFB.
“I have initiated an investigation into this matter to determine the fact," Boswell said at Monday’s press conference. “If the ensuing investigation determines that these service members did not follow these directives, I can assure you that they will be held accountable for their actions under Uniform Code of Military Justice.”
Boswell said 100 percent of the unit have been tested and those who were initially billeted at Guam Reef Hotel in Tumon have been moved into immediate medical quarantine. “They are being monitored routinely and are in stable condition with no medical complications,” the 36th Wing commander added.
Boswell said it was unclear whether the infected service members contracted Covid-19 on Guam or prior to their arrival on island.
“We are working with the governor and Guam Public Health to deal with this issue as a team,” Boswell said.
Due to operational security concerns, Boswell said, the military could not reveal further details on the affected service members and the unit.
However, he added, “We are committed to absolute transparency with Public Health contact-tracing efforts to ensure the safety of the local community as well as our military community.”
While investigation is ongoing “to shed light on how this situation happened,” Rear Adm. John Menoni appealed to the community to avoid assigning blame.
“Today we don’t have all the facts as to how and why, so it would be counterproductive to speculate,” he said. “We are working to find solutions. We need to fix this problem.”
In the meantime, he advised the military and civilian communities to continue following the guidelines under the military and local public health emergency declarations which remain in effect.
“Keep physical distance, wear a mask, practice hygiene, stay home and call your medical provider,” Menoni said. “This Covid virus is an enemy like no other. We will win if we continue to work together to protect ourselves, protect our families and protect our mission.”
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said the staff of Guam Reef Hotel, where service members had been quarantined, have been tested while contact tracing continues.
“We are in the process of identifying other locations these service members may have been,” the governor said
She said Covid-19 positive servicemembers have been moved out of the community and are currently isolated within AAFB.
"Because of the circumstances surrounding the service members, I am working closely with Admiral Menoni and Brig Gen. Boswell regarding quarantine," the governor said. "Let me be clear, all individuals on Guam are subject to the established public health emergency protocols. Our military partners have been very cooperative.”
Leon Guerrero said the local government is requesting for more contract tracers through the National Guard in partnership with the University of Guam.
Public Health Director Linda DeNorcey said her department continues its testing and outreach efforts. She urged “anyone who think they may have been exposed to get tested. No one will be turned away.”
Expanded Covid-19 testing continues
DPHSS, in collaboration with the Government of Guam, the Mayors Council of Guam, private, and federal agencies, continues expanded COVID-19 testing.
Testing is free and open to the public while supplies last. No symptoms are needed to qualify for testing. If your village is not listed, please proceed to a neighboring village for testing. Please bring an I.D., if one is available. The expanded testing schedule is as follows:
COVID-19 Drive-Through Testing:
Tuesday, June 23, 2020, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the GPD Police Koban Parking Lot (next to Barrigada Community Center)
Wednesday, June 24, 2020, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the Agana Heights Mayor’s Office
Thursday, June 25, 2020, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the parking lot between the St. Francis Church and the St. Francis School
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