The number of Air Force service members on Guam who have been infected with COVID-19 has increased to 37.
Brig. Gen. Gentry W. Boswell, commander of the 36th Wing on Andersen Air Force Base, confirmed the latest total in a press conference with the governor Monday afternoon.
There are two groups of COVID-19 cases involving Air Force service members on Guam. One unit involves airmen who arrived on Guam on May 25 and were initially housed at the Guam Reef Hotel.
The airmen in this unspecified unit have all been tested and 35 have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the 36th Wing.
The Department of Public Health and Social Services confirmed separately that 74 people, including seven Reef hotel employees who were at risk of exposure, were being tested.
The airmen had been restricted to the Reef Hotel and their work at Andersen, but there might have been a breach of the restrictions on their movement.
"Preliminary evidence in the Public Health investigation revealed the possibility that some of these members may not have adhered to Andersen and local Public Health directives," according to the 36th Wing.
A command investigation is underway to determine what went wrong, Boswell said.
If there is a determination that certain service members did not follow public health directives, he said, "They will be held accountable."
Another Air Force unit that came to Guam as a medical team to support Naval Hospital Guam's response to COVID-19 has two confirmed cases and they are part of the latest tally of 37 airmen.
The airmen who tested positive while serving at Naval Hospital Guam haven't had contact with the airmen who were housed at the Guam Reef Hotel, Boswell said.
All 37 airmen are isolated on Andersen, Boswell said.
Airmen from a bomber task force from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas are not part of the COVID-9 cases on Guam, Boswell said.
There's no definitive answer yet whether the airmen's first case or cases got the infection on Guam, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said.
The first of the airmen who arrived on May 25 and stayed at the Reef Hotel tested positive about 17 days of the service members' arrival, according to a previously released timeline from the 36th Wing. The first symptoms for patient one from the Air Force unit at the Reef Hotel started to manifest on June 11, according to Andersen.
Public Health Director Linda Unpingco-DeNorcey and Joint Region Marianas Rear Adm. John Menoni joined the governor and Boswell at the press conference.
“I have been assured a situation like this will not happen again,” said the governor.
The latest cases from the military brought the total COVID-19 count for Guam to 222, and the Department of Public Health and Social Services on Monday tested 103 civilians, two of whom tested positive to further raise the total to 224. Of those cases, 182 are classified as civilians, and 42 are military service members.
“We are currently conducting our investigation with the military ... to identify other cases in the community,” said Unpingco-DeNorcey.
Menoni asked the community to “focus on solving the problem rather than assign blame.”
Unpingco-DeNorcey could not confirm what other areas outside the base were visited by the airmen.