While there will not be a rollback on restrictions in light of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, the government remains in Pandemic Condition of Readiness 2 and is tightening quarantine requirements for incoming passengers.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Saturday confirmed the July 1 reopening of Guam’s tourism industry will be delayed.
“Our struggle with COVID-19 is far from over but we will prevail,” said Leon Guerrero. She was joined in the press briefing by Dr. Felix Cabrera, who is with the governor’s physicians' advisory group, and acting Department of Public Health Director Lori Duenas.
The governor shared concerns with the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Guam’s total count is now at 248 with the majority being reported in the northern part of the island.
Sixteen new cases reported this past week came from areas throughout the community and were not part of a cluster.
The governor also said the contact tracing investigations and the military’s investigations are ongoing after 35 airmen deployed to Guam tested positive. Those airmen apparently violated restricted movement orders while staying at the Guam Reef Hotel in Tumon and visited at least 30 establishments across Guam.
Leon Guerrero said some of the airmen have hired legal representation, but the military continues to work with local officials and has assured her they will hold service members accountable for any breach in protocol.
“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,” said Leon Guerrero. “The data indicates that our progress is not lost. We will not roll back any of our current measures; however, we will be delaying any further relaxing of restrictions.”
The increase in cases, she said, is also contributed to more people getting tested. As of Saturday, the governor said there was no new date that has been set to reopen tourism, but health officials are monitoring the number of those tested daily to make a determination.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Expanded community testing will continue over the next three weeks, Duenas said. The dates and locations will be announced soon.
New quarantine requirements
Cabrera said part of the ongoing monitoring includes watching how many positive cases are reported alongside how many people are being tested for the virus daily.
“We’ve gotten to a point where it’s gotten much more slim in these areas and it is a warning that if the cases continue to go up and if we are not doing enough testing, we’d be going backwards in terms of our progress,” said Cabrera.
The increase in COVID positives now means new changes to the quarantine, testing and monitoring requirements for all travelers coming into Guam. The new policy goes into effect after midnight on Wednesday.
The new policy for travelers includes the following:
• Hotspot locations will be renamed as "high-risk areas."
• For the U.S., risk status will be determined on a state-by-state level, to include territories.
• The default level of quarantine required upon arrival on Guam is based on whether a traveler is coming from a high-risk area.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.