The government of Guam on Thursday stated the island has lost another life in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guam's 38th COVID-19-related fatality was a 76-year-old woman with underlying health conditions that were compounded by COVID-19, the Joint Information Center stated. The woman died 6:55 a.m. Thursday at Guam Memorial Hospital.

She was transferred to GMH on Sept. 18 after testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 at Guam Regional Medical City.

"As the dawn broke and many of us were starting our day, we lost our 38th individual to COVID-19. As an island still in mourning, her passing is a great loss to our community. To those she cherished, Jeff, Lt. Governor Josh, and I send our condolences and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy," said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero in a press release. "To the people of Guam, this should be a time for unity, not division. We all have a role in stopping this virus and preventing even more deaths. Our front liners need our help. Wear your masks, social distance, and stay home — these simple actions can make a big difference."

Masks, social distancing work

The governor said the enforcement of pandemic safeguards such as mask wearing and keeping a distance from others who are not from the same household have helped to slow the number of COVID cases.

"The numbers that we're seeing, we're very confident that we're starting to see a gradual decrease in ... our community spread," the governor said.

"I feel that ... what we have done is we have stopped our community spread to be in the triple-digit; we are now in the mid-double digits, and unfortunately our fatality rate continues to be about one a day," she said.

Guam Memorial Hospital has fewer hospitalized COVID patients, with 33 as of Thursday evening from as high as 60 in prior weeks, according to the governor. Eleven of the COVID patients were in the government hospital's ICU. GMH had 19 patients in the ICU at one time.

GovGuam on Thursday night reported 28 newly confirmed COVID cases out of 436 tested.

Of the 28, 10 cases were identified through contact tracing.

Public Health has shifted much of its testing efforts from holding drive-thru, community-based testing that accommodated hundreds of people within several hours to now reaching out and testing the known contacts of new COVID-19 patients. GovGuam has also been working with clinics to test more people, according to the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

There have been a total of 2,263 officially reported cases of COVID-19 since testing started in March.

There were 657 cases in active isolation, and 1,568 not in active isolation.

Of those cases, 1,996 are civilians and 267 are military service members. 

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