Expanded testing to include apartment complexes, homeless

DIRECTOR: Department of Public Health and Social Services Director Linda Unpingco-DeNorcey talks about the various COVID-19 testing sites while at the free drive-thru testing facility Tuesday at the Astumbo Gym in Dededo. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

The Department of Public Health and Social Services, with help from supporting agencies, launched the first in a series of expanded testing outreach programs at the Astumbo Gym on Tuesday.

Residents who have COVID-19 symptoms and those living in multigenerational homes – parents, grandparents and children living together – are encouraged to participate in the program.

Remaining testing events for the week are:

• Today: All residents with symptoms islandwide can get tested at the Astumbo Gym from 3-6 p.m.

• Thursday: Central residents at Mangilao Senior Citizens Center from 3-6 p.m.

• Friday: Southern residents at Agat Senior Citizens Center from 1-4 p.m.

Guam is expanding COVID-19 testing to identify additional pockets of infection within the community. Testing guidelines were only recently opened to consider all individuals with COVID-19 symptoms. Previously, individuals with milder symptoms were told to stay home and self-isolate, and it is assumed there are unidentified cases within the community.

Now, as officials contemplate returning the island to some level of normalcy, expanded testing and contact tracing are factors in those decisions. 

After this week, Public Health will be assessing homeless individuals in Hagåtña, according to agency Director Linda Unpingco-DeNorcey.

"We're also going to look at congregate buildings ... that means people that live in multiple apartment units, like Hemlani Apartment units," the director added. "And we're also going to look at the manåmko'. So we're going to be doing Guma Trankilidat and possibly St. Dominic's (Senior Care Home) – we're communicating already with them."

Unpingco-DeNorcey said Public Health is looking to test workers as well as the elderly, as they remain a vulnerable population for the disease. Once Public Health completes expanded testing in the community, it will focus on testing health care workers and first responders.

Prior to launching the expanded testing program this week, the health department conducted a pilot run on Saturday. But as workers looked for participants in the neighborhoods around the Astumbo Gym, where the pilot took place, they found fewer than anticipated symptomatic people.

As it stands, asymptomatic individuals still fall lower on the priority list for testing. The fact that there were less than anticipated symptomatic people seen while canvassing last week won't change the road map for priorities, Unpingco-DeNorcey said.

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