Perception of COVID risk has changed despite daily triple-digit cases on island

MASKS REQUIRED: Since Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero lifted Guam's mask mandate, establishments such as Lollipop Playground in the Micronesia Mall, seen July 27, continue to maintain COVID-19 protocols as case numbers continue to be in the triple digits on an average day. Marcus Evaristo/The Guam Daily Post

The virus that causes COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere, according to health officials, and island residents should not let their guard down as Guam remains at high risk.

“Given our seven-day community new case average, as well as our hospitalization and percent of hospital beds occupied by patients with COVID-19, we remain at that high risk level,” Dr. Annette David said. "Like I said last week, this virus really seems to have a fatal attraction for the human race and it really isn’t going anywhere. What has changed is our perception of risk."

Health officials believe that people are becoming more lax as they’ve grown tired of the pandemic.

“I think people are getting tired of COVID,” said Dr. Robert "Bob" Leon Guerrero, physician and immunization adviser with the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services. "I see more and more people when I go shopping or anywhere else not wearing masks. I know there’s no mandates, but the island should be wearing masks. That’s the message since day one. Even though there’s no mandates I recommend wearing masks, it does help."

Leon Guerrero pushed for continued mask use as Public Health reported an increase in the number of individuals seeking treatment for the respiratory virus.

“We’ve opened up our monoclonal antibody clinic at Paseo. Up until yesterday, we were kind of slow, maybe about four to five a day, but, I guess the message is just finally getting through and we have about 10 scheduled for today,” he said. “So that’s good and bad. They are making use of the monoclonal antibodies and the other medications that are antiviral. The bad is that we have a lot of people testing positive.”

Surveillance of the COVID situation on island over the past four weeks continues to exceed 100 cases per day.

“There seems to be a convergence going on (in adult age groups) and a recent decrease, which is good. The elderly, 75 plus, went down, but the 60-74 age group went up, kids pretty stable there and most cases are asymptomatic,” territorial epidemiologist Ann Pobutsky said during the Public Health press conference Thursday.

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