At the writing of this article, Guam is approaching exactly six months of being in various levels of shutdown (PCOR1 to PCOR3). With less than 10 positive cases a day, Guam went from Pandemic Condition of Readiness 2 to PCOR3 in July but after spikes of 30-plus positive cases daily in August, Guam went back to PCOR1. This one-week-at-a-time announcing the continuation of PCOR1 is counterproductive to effective tracking of COVID-19’s spread. With an incubation period of up to 14 days, a two-week period should be tracked to check if this coronavirus spread has significantly decreased.
Now concerning opening of businesses, there should be clear empathy for small business owners who have been forced to close and for all employees in Guam with lost income. As people can be seen going into open hardware and grocery stores en masse and not get the virus, the same opportunity should be afforded to all businesses/organizations. As we examine the COVID-19 spread, it seems the virus has infected persons due to close contact whether family members, associates, friends, or cramped living quarters (note the 50-plus cases announced last Friday traced to a construction company’s barracks). One undeniable conclusion from this trend is that social distancing (physical separation) is the best deterrent to this coronavirus. It will not matter how clean you are — if you snuggle up to a person who has this coronavirus, you will likely get COVID-19. A recent survey asked what you prefer: complete shutdown of all or restricted shutdown of businesses (top two choices). I chose the second choice for some of the facts above. Allow a business/organization to open safely applying the W that really counts—Watch your distance (Stay 6 feet apart)! If contact tracing shows that a business allowed a person to be infected with COVID-19, then that business closes for two-plus weeks. This can be supervised by the new positions created in Public Health funded by monies given directly to GovGuam to battle COVID-19. Despite difficulties in managing the pandemic fund, we thank Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero for all her vigorous efforts in fighting COVID-19.
In a successful society, attention is given to those suffering among its multitudes. Since our nation’s founding this has been a view addressed by all levels of the government. Historically, the government has been an advocate for churches’/nonprofits’ programs such as food banks and medical/education outreaches.
Respect for government mandate is vital to order. However, when the suffering of thousands on our isle due to COVID-19 is shuttered up — like preparing for a super typhoon — because stopping the spread of COVID-19 is the main goal, there is now support for peaceful protests or meaningful dialogue in opposition to governmental orders. Questions like “Who determines what is essential and nonessential?” are warranted and perhaps justify a return to civil resistance toward certain government mandates.
Congress passed the CARES Act to provide financial aid for Americans affected by this pandemic originating in China. However, this funding is limited and Guam has to begin to CARE more for its hurting members. Here are some suggestions.
1. Continue the food banks but with concentrated efforts to assist those most affected. For instance, prioritize food supplies for those who are unemployed (with no SNAP).
2. Call for help: Neighbors/associates who are hospitalized or quarantined – offer to buy food and other supplies.
3. Contact/aid families struggling with online learning: Provide technology assistance or offer to pick up Grab & Learn packets for those without transportation or unable to go during school pickup times.
These are a few; however, caring actions should not be limited to these. In times like these, we must care for those directly affected by COVID-19. Moreover, we must also care for those affected by loss of income/livelihood due to COVID-19. Consider Proverbs 18:1 (NLT): “Unfriendly people care only about themselves; they lash out at common sense.” A former president shared, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Apply that to this temporary era of COVID-19 in Guam
Pastor Jose Gallego is a faith and family writer who is with othe Abundant Life Church, an Assembly of God fellowship in Dededo.