Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has given her assurance to the community that no laws were broken when the government of Guam first secured the use of local hotels for quarantine at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
“I had to make decisions right away. None of the work and none of the actions, none of the decisions that I have made is incorrect. None of the decisions that I have made is illegal and so I do not acknowledge, because of how we did the second process, any wrongdoing or any illegality or any kinds of violations of law,” Leon Guerrero said during Monday’s COVID-19 press briefing. “There is accountability always from our government and our administration. We are very transparent, we are very accountable, we work very closely with our administration and making sure that we are in no violation of the laws and regulations.”
On Sunday, the Joint Information Center announced the General Services Agency – the procurement arm of the government – had awarded contracts to Hotel Santa Fe, Days Inn and Wyndham Garden Guam to serve as the quarantine facilities during Pandemic Condition of Readiness 2.
Media have questioned the administration about the manner in which the Pacific Star Resort & Spa and other hotels were chosen as quarantine and isolation sites. Leon Guerrero said she used her authority under the emergency to take immediate action during the efforts to “contain the virus and save lives.”
“Like I said from the very beginning when we started having our COVID increases in our community, the contact sources was from traveling outside. The best measure to prevent more spread in our community was to provide quarantine facilities and mandate quarantine facilities. It was much more urgent knowing the Philippines was the contact source location. We needed to get these facilities right away. I, through my emergency powers from the public health emergency act, instituted emergency purchasing. We did that because it was truly a real dire emergency,” the governor said. “We are not as urgent as before, so we were able to use a deliberate way of doing it, although the first way was also very deliberate in terms that we had decided that it had to be done urgently and emergently.”
The governor said the records regarding Pacific Star, the agreement for which has since expired, are being kept at the Guam Homeland Security/ Office of Civil Defense. The Pacific Star, which was the only facility that hadn't received payment as of May 5, has been paid, the governor said Monday.
Wyndham and Days Inn had received partial payments.
Request for interest
There were no contracts for Pacific Star, Wyndham and Days Inn for quarantine and isolation. Pacific Star's agreement expired April 22; it's unclear if that agreement was renewed. Days Inn and Wyndham's agreements expired May 17. And an agreement with a fourth facility, Perlas Court, expired May 18.
The governor said a request for interest was then issued in light of the expiring agreements. As a result, Wyndham, Days Inn and Hotel Santa Fe were issued purchase orders to provide quarantine and isolation services.
The nightly cost that GovGuam is paying per room at Santa Fe is $93, while the nightly rate at both Wyndham and Days Inn is set at $110. The costs at each hotel includes three meals and laundry service, she said.
Leon Guerrero added the government no longer needs the large amount of space Pacific Star offers, as the number of passengers and confirmed cases remain low. All passengers who were staying at Pacific Star have since been relocated.
“We weren’t able to get the same kind of negotiations," the governor noted during the briefing, in regards to the cost of the new purchase orders compared to the actions taken to secure hotels in March. "We were pressed to get the hotel accommodations in the first couple of weeks. In this case, the only option is to lease the whole facility."
All incoming travelers continue to be required to be placed in a government-approved quarantine facility. The administration has yet to lift any restrictions that would instantly allow returning Guam residents to quarantine at home.