A moment of silence was held during Tuesday’s press briefing at the governor's office at Adelup for a 79-year-old man who became the latest victim of COVID-19.
“It’s my duty to deliver the gravest news a governor can relay. At 11:32 a.m., a second person confirmed to have COVID-19 passed away,” said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero.
She said the man had multiple health issues to include colon cancer and a traumatic spinal injury.
“I will try to call the family and offer my condolences,” she said. “His family had made a difficult decision to implement both a do-not-intubate and do-not-resuscitate order. ... Everyone who loved this person and everyone who called this person a friend has our deepest condolences.”
Officials said he had no travel history.
COVID-19 Medical Director Dr. Joleen Aguon said the man showed up to Guam Regional Medical City on March 24. He had a fever and was tested for the virus.
He was taken to Guam Memorial Hospital the following day and was confirmed to be among the five people who tested positive on Guam on March 25.
“The family was already aware that this was going to happen,” said Aguon. “(The Department of Public Health and Social Services) has been actively investigating this since he became COVID-19-positive.”
Public Health Director Linda Unpingco-DeNorcey said her investigators and surveillance teams have been meeting with people who came into contact with the patient.
“All these households, if they are in close contact with them and they experience any type of symptoms, they automatically will be tested to confirm whether or not they are infected,” said Unpingco-DeNorcey. “If they are, then we will continue to monitor them.”
On March 22, 68-year-old Dorothea Jesus died from the virus. She was the first person in the U.S. territory to pass away from COVID-19.
As of March 31, a total of 69 confirmed cases and two deaths have been reported on Guam out of about 439 people tested.
On Tuesday nine cases tested positive by the Guam Public Health Laboratory and two positive cases came from testing from the Naval Health Center in San Diego, California.
More than 46 of the cases had no travel history, while eight had traveled to Japan, three to the U.S. mainland including Hawaii, and eight from the Philippines.
Twenty-seven of them are men, and 31 are women.
The patients range in age from their 20s to 90s.
Seven of the positive cases have since recovered from the virus.
“Our most recent tragedy indicates that we cannot decrease our vigilance. We cannot become comfortable and we cannot surrender to complacency. You are not invisible. No matter how healthy and active you are, you are still at risk,” Leon Guerrero said. “The pandemic will either accelerate beyond the capacity of the health care system or decrease through containable levels. We will not stop until we have won the war against COVID-19.”
Leon Guerrero said while testing as many people as possible would help in the fight against the virus, she admits test kits are in limited supply around the world.
The governor said the military's Joint Region Marianas is looking to bring 400 test kits to Guam and has offered to test samples taken locally at their labs off island, if needed.
The government of Guam and the Diagnostic Laboratory Services, additionally, have an agreement in place to soon begin commercial testing.
Unpingco-DeNorcey said additional test kits are expected to arrive on Guam this week.
Thirty of the patients are in stable condition while 19 of them are hospitalized and split up between Guam Memorial Hospital and the COVID-19 isolation unit in Barrigada Heights.
“All of our staff in all of our clinics are isolating as much of our patients as much as possible,” said GMH Medical Director Dr. Annie Bordallo. “The fewer contacts, the better.”
She said 10 of the patients hospitalized are at GMH’s main facility, with two in the intensive care unit and nine at the COVID-19 isolation unit.
GMH has the capacity to isolate 36 patients and has 60 isolation beds in the Barrigada Heights facility.
The public hospital’s main goal, she said, is to isolate all COVID-19 cases into a contained unit.
For now, GMH is screening each person who shows up outside of the facility before he or she is placed in an appropriate area inside the hospital.
“No patients are within contact with each other. Nobody waits in a waiting room and mixes with anybody else,” she said. “We have patients that are particularly vulnerable in our facility. These are non-COVID-19 patients who are ill. Our first order of business is to move them out of the hospital.”
Bordallo said discussions are ongoing with GRMC to relocate patients as well. That includes those in labor and delivery, the pediatrics unit, neonatal ICU and the nursery.
However, she said those patients aren’t as vulnerable to the virus.
The priority is to relocate elderly patients.
Bordallo admits, however, that limited health care staff is a challenge.
“Getting them the equipment they need to take care of these patients has been our No. 1 priority,” she said. “It is a trying time right now and there is a lot of fear out in the community. The best recommendation is to talk to your family – don’t gather, don’t go out. If you stay home, that is your best bet.”