The military's leadership on Guam scrambled to clarify Tuesday afternoon that Naval Hospital Guam doesn't have COVID-19-infected patients.
The clarification was issued after The Guam Daily Post received a response from a Navy hospital spokeswoman that the military supposedly has four confirmed COVID-19 patients on Guam.
When news of the supposed cases broke, it happened when Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero was holding a press conference on COVID-19-related updates. The governor was taken aback by the information, saying the military should have informed her administration first – as part of protocol – for any confirmation of COVID-19 cases in the military community.
While the military's Joint Region Marianas denied any COVID patients at the Navy hospital, it did confirm there are "two (Department of Defense)-affiliated cases who were tested" by the Department of Public Health and Social Services laboratory. And these two DOD-affiliated cases were included in the total previously reported by the Joint Information Center, the military stated.
The two DOD-affiliated patients are being monitored in home isolation in accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the Navy hospital stated.
Thirty-two COVID-19 cases have been confirmed by the Joint Information Center, including one death, as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Information from spokeswoman
The Post had received information by phone from Jaciyn Matanane, Naval Hospital Guam spokeswoman, that confirmed four positive cases of COVID-19 and 26 persons under investigation in the military community.
“We have four positive COVID-19 cases that were tested and the results came back confirmed. And we have 26 ... people under investigation,” said Matanane. She said the tests were sent to the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego.
The governor, during the press conference, was stunned to learn about the additional cases without first hearing from the military.
“I am going to have (Department of Public Health and Social Services Director Linda Unpingco-DeNorcey) call the epidemiologist and the Naval Hospital because we should’ve had that information and there is no information,” said the governor. “I am going to have to talk to Adm. (John) Menoni because that is not the protocol. They should not have given you that information without giving it to us first,” she said in response to a question from the Post at the 1 p.m. press conference.
By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, governor’s spokeswoman Krystal Paco-San Agustin said they reached out to the military and learned that “the report of four COVID-19 cases as U.S. Naval Hospital Guam was an error.”
'We regret the confusion'
“Regrettably, the report of four confirmed COVID-19 cases at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam was made in error. Naval Hospital Guam has tested numerous personnel in conjunction with the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rick Moore, Joint Region Marianas spokesperson. “We continue to work hand in hand with the government of Guam and the Department of Public Health and Social Services, to include timely notification of any suspected or confirmed cases.”
Naval Hospital Guam Commanding Officer Capt. Maria Young said: “We regret the confusion caused by this misreport. I would like to set the record straight that there are no active cases of COVID-19 at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam."
"There are two DOD-affiliated cases who were tested by DPHSS and previously reported by the government of Guam Joint Information Center. Both of those patients are currently in DPHSS-monitored home isolation in accordance with CDC guidelines,” she stated.