HAGATNA, 29 JUNE 2020 (THE GUAM DAILY POST) —There will be additional community testing and new quarantine procedures in Guam effective 01 July for inbound passengers, regardless of residency.

Deputy Director and soon-to-be acting Director of Department of Public Health and Social Services Laurent Duenas said they are continuing tests in the community and focusing on the north where most of the people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 reside.

According to the governor, effective Wednesday, the following changes will be implemented:

1. Hotspot locations will be renamed as “high-risk areas.”

2. For the U.S., risk status will be determined on a state-by-state level, to include territories.

3. The default level of quarantine required upon arrival on Guam is based on whether a traveler is coming from a high-risk area.

4. A pre-arrival negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, in particular for those traveling from a high-risk area, is necessary to determine the location of quarantine.

5. Residency status will NOT determine the level of quarantine or testing required. Considerations for alternate quarantine locations will still be made in certain limited circumstances.

6. High-risk areas will be determined by a calculated COVID-19 Area Risk (CAR) score, which primarily assesses an area’s recently calculated case doubling time and test positivity rate.

Current high-risk areas include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Africa, Central America, Middle East, and South America.

The governor said last week alone, 1,707 individuals were tested and DPHSS confirmed 48 new cases of COVID-19, which results in a 2.75% positivity rate.

“This increase was to be expected because we increased our testing capacity,” she stated. 

The governor noted that DPHSS tested 12,147 individuals, which translates to 7.4% of Guam’s population, placing Guam “ahead of states and territories like Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” 

To date, Guam has 248 cases with five deaths, 179 released from isolation, and 64 active cases.

“This increase in the number of confirmed cases is concerning, and it should be taken very seriously. As I have said before, our decisions will be based on data – not fear,” she stated. “We will not be reinstituting any of our previous restrictions; however, we will be delaying any further relaxation of restrictions so we can observe the data. And after meeting with the State Surgeon Cell, I have decided to delay the reopening of Guam’s tourism industry. We have not decided when nor have we set a goal date, which will allow us to monitor our numbers. Yesterday’s low case positives was a good sign, but decisions are not based on any single data point.”

The governor added that DPHSS continues the investigations and effort to contain the pandemic, noting that DPHSS Director Linda Unpingco-DeNorcey will retire from government service on 03 July.

“For more than three decades, Linda has served the people of Guam. She has been committed, extremely competent and dedicated to the health of our people,” the governor stated. “COVID-19 has forced each of us to hold even closer to those we love. Her sense of urgency, her experience, and her successes have benefitted not just her agency but the community as a whole. She will be missed, and we greatly appreciate her service.”

The governor added her confidence in Duenas who has many years of experience at DPHSS.

“I am confident in her leadership and the leadership of Deputy Director Josie O’Mallon, a veteran of Public Health’s Bureau of Communicable Disease Control,” the governor stated. 

“In the days and weeks ahead, we are all reminded that our struggle against COVID-19 is far from over. But we will prevail. While most businesses have reopened and social gatherings of no more than 25 are permissible, new cases are a reminder that the world is not yet COVID-free. My message to the people of Guam is simple: Though we must remain physically distant, we are closer than we have ever been. This means we cannot become complacent. Limit contact to those within your households, wear face masks, practice social distancing of at least 6 feet, and wash your hands. Without a vaccine, this is how we can beat COVID-19. There may be tough days ahead, but we will get through this together,” she said…. PACNEWS

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