Coronavirus on Guam? Not Officially Yet!

Persons Under Evaluation (PUE)

Two patients on Guam are being evaluated for coronavirus (COVID-19). According to the Department of Public Health and Social Services,  one PUE is at Guam Memorial Hospital, after being transferred from Guam Regional Medical City, and the other PUE is in home isolation. 

A release from the Government Complex in Adelup, Guam,  stated that the individuals don’t meet the full criteria to be considered a “Person Under Investigation” (PUI) for COVID-19 as determined by the Hawaii State Laboratories Division, but they are still being tested as a precaution. 

There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Guam. The first patient was isolated at Guam Regional Medical City overnight Tuesday night through the day on Wednesday, then transferred to Guam Memorial Hospital, according to a release from the private hospital. After an assessment conducted by Public Health officials, the second case is being monitored in home isolation, the release stated.

As lab testing becomes more available across the U.S. mainland and territories, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention gave authority to states and territories to develop their own testing criteria, the government release stated.  Guam received a shipment of test kits on Tuesday.

On the Personal Home Front

The signs of any looming pandemic here on Guam seem minimal. Besides some local negative news coming from business front –  totally expected with tourism numbers being down – the only physical awareness are the signs of some tourist district employees wearing protective masks and gloves. One woman offered up that her company required those in direct contact with customers from abroad to proavtively protect themselves, and the company. I did notice just a few workers wearing latex gloves also. Military security personnel at the base’s entry points are all wearing gloves. Other than that, everybody seems aware but are not necessarily taking extreme actions. At the gym for example, I noticed some guys will do their machine workout, then leaving the equipment unwiped – with the sanitary wipes that the gym provides. That in itself is a little concerning given the current situation, but yet absolutely normal that some people are not that considerate of the person that follows them.

At the bowling alley on Guam, it’s business as usual with everybody high-fiving each other, even when they miss their spare shot!  This morning, we went out for breakfast, then acted like a couple tourists in the normally crowded tourist district of Lower Tumon Bay, while we walked and shopped. It was very apparent that the number of normal shoppers and tourists were way down along the nearly two and a half mile-long hotel and store-lined boulevard. But there were still many Japanese die-hard tourists that would never think of cancelling their dream vacation.  It’s those same folks we see buzzing around the waters of Agana Bay and Tumon Bay on jet skis in the pouring rain! I can’t say I blame them… they did travel a long way just to have a chance at some fun in the sun!

Like I mentioned previously, only some store employees and those who might come in direct contact with tourists (mostly Japanese and few Korean) were actually seen wearing the occasional face mask. We did hit a few stores and found that there was still some hand sanitizer on some store shelves. We picked up a couple items at the Hard Rock Cafe, then headed home. And before we got home, wouldn’t you just know it that the wife suggests that maybe we should pick up some sanitizer after all. So I figured I’d drive to the Naval Hospital Exchange for gas and we could pick up some sanitizer there – only to learn it was out of stock there.  Sold Out!  So I picked up the next best germ killing thing I know…

Backup Sanitizer!

A little Bourbon and a some Sochu. Okay, a lot of bourbon. Afterall, if we need to self-quarantine ourselves, we might as well make it interesting!  Life is only boring if you let it be such.

The Guam Protocol

Back on the island front, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Wednesday morning said Guam hadn’t yet sent any samples for testing, because at that point, there were no patients considered to meet the criteria to be placed under investigation for the virus.

She explained that a patient needs to meet certain criteria before being considered a PUI. She said if a doctor sees a patient who is concerned about having the virus, they would then call Public Health, who will then send a team for assessment. The Public Health team will assess if the person meets the criteria.

She said there is a concern there could be people out there who are not going to clinics to be assessed by Public Health. The governor encouraged however, those who aren’t ‘seriously’ sick to stay home. The governor also urged residents to share accurate information.

“We don’t want to start any kind of unnecessary anxiety for our community and I asked them again to remain very calm, but cautious,” the Governor stated.   However, all the panic-stopping warnings didn’t come soon enough. Shoppers looking for disinfectant wipes were finally met with empty shelves at The Home Depot, Kmart, Pay-Less, Cost-U-Less and other stores on Tuesday.  Only some stores still have small bottles of hand sanitizer available.

Lower Tumon Bay Guam
Not your normally crowded streets!

Guam Tourism Numbers Are Down

Guam had 116,630 tourists this February, which is a 15% decline compared to last year. The island’s leading market saw a sharp decline with 32% fewer tourists from South Korea this February compared with last year. 

These are the first signs of how the tourism industry is being affected by the outbreak of coronavirus, according to the Guam Visitors Bureau on Tuesday.
Offical info taken from the Pacific Daily News, March 11, 2020

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