'They essentially jailed us'

QUARANTINED: Alvin Sherman, of Dededo, speaks to The Guam Daily Post's Nick Delgado on video chat Tuesday from his hotel room. Sherman has been quarantined for the last few days following his arrival to Guam from Manila. He was recently moved to Pacific Star Resort & Spa. Video screen grab

Alvin Sherman, of Dededo, looked outside his hotel room at a sunny Tumon Bay.

It’s a view of the beach he cannot go to.

"They are locking up their own citizens who have homes who can easily self-isolate,” said Sherman.

Sherman is among the first group of March 19 arrivals from the Philippines who were placed in mandatory isolation at the Days Inn by Wyndham Guam in Tamuning.

“I’ve tried calling the governor’s office, the hotline, the (Joint Information Center), and no one can get answers as to why we are all in here. (The Department of Public Health and Social Services) and the governor are allowing positive cases to self-isolate at home ... no one here since Thursday has been tested at all. So why are we here locked up with no symptoms and no confirmed case when we can all be at home,” he said. “They are at home. Everyone here just wants to be at home during this difficult, trying time and they are denying us that. They have essentially jailed us, inhumanely and unjustifiably.”

Sherman had been on vacation for two weeks.

He was at the airport in Manila last week ready to come home before the situation surrounding COVID-19 worsened.

“Everyone on my flight was racing home because the last time we had checked in the airport in Manila at the gate was that anyone who was a resident was allowed to leave the (Guam) airport and exercise home quarantine for 14 days,” he said.

Sherman was just happy to finally get home, but his trip did not end after his flight landed on Guam.

“When we got to baggage claim, we see all the nurses running around, airport police telling you to line up and you are given a form from the health director saying you are going to be involuntarily quarantined at a government facility of their choosing with food, lodging provided at their expense,” he said. “Ever since the airport, we’ve all been mad.”

His group spent the first four days at the Days Inn. He questioned the conditions at the selected quarantine sites.

“The food was disgusting. I am living on oatmeal mostly, still. You can get dropped food from family, but then you are putting your family at risk, too, being out there just to give me food. So you kind of don’t want to ask them for help,” he said. “There’s no security, no (Guam Police Department officers) or guards here. There’s nothing preventing us from going upstairs to walk around. In the bathroom, there is mold.”

On Monday night, the group was relocated to the Pacific Star Resort & Spa in Tumon.

At their hotel room, they found a document from Public Health stating that if they sign it, then they agree to a voluntary quarantine. The document was dated back to the day they arrived on Guam.

Sherman said he and others refused to sign it.

“They are trying to cover their trail. They are lost. Everyone’s head is in the ground and no one can give answers,” he said. “The decision that was made was poorly executed, ill-planned and reactionary.”

'For Manila, there's no option'

On Tuesday, the government discussed the $4 million price tag that it’s spending on a lease to cover the cost of multiple isolation sites set up at local hotels. Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said the money is coming from the General Fund and she hopes to get a federal reimbursement for the expenses.

Public Health Director Lynda Unpingco-DeNorcey said passengers from the Philippines are immediately placed in quarantine because the country is a “hot spot” for the virus.

“We are not asking you anymore to do it; we are telling you that you have to do it. It’s mandatory quarantine,” said Unpingco-DeNorcey.

The governor said no one is being quarantined against their will and that those in quarantine have been cooperative.

“We want to better control these people. We want to make sure they are not out in the community infecting people. We don’t know if they are positive and we don’t know if they are negative,” said Leon Guerrero.

She said majority of the contact sources of the virus are linked to people who traveled to the Philippines.

“For Manila, there’s no option. They have to be in a quarantine facility,” she said. “We are very serious about this. If we have to arrest people to make sure we save the people of Guam, I am going to do that.”

Officials said at the beginning of the week that more than 200 people are being held in quarantine facilities.

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