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Guam’s COVID-19 cases continued to climb with five new patients added Thursday night.
The island has shifted from three cases just three weeks ago to 82 as of Thursday. Three patients have died and 12 have recovered.
All 67 remaining Guam patients who tested positive remain in isolation, according to the governor's office.
Nearly 16% of Guam residents who have been tested have been found positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Three were confirmed positive while in quarantine after having arrived on international flights.
The COVID-19 total doesn’t include nearly 100 sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which pulled into Naval Base Guam last week as its number of COVID-19-infected sailors continued to climb.
At the Pentagon on Wednesday, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters 93 of the warship’s sailors had tested positive. So far, 593 of the sailor's nearly 5,000 crew members have tested negative, Modly said.
The Pentagon plans to remove about 2,700 sailors from the warship while it is being disinfected.
The Navy has convinced Governor Lou Leon Guerrero to allow sailors who test negative for the virus to be quarantined in certain Guam hotels for 14 days. The sailors will be forbidden from leaving the hotels which will be secured by military personnel.
The governor said she has a moral and ethical obligation to help the sailors.
"The bottom line is our sailors go out and protect our freedom," the governor said. "We ask them to go out and sacrifice their lives for our protections, and they are asking us to help them get over this God-awful virus; and when I look at the opportunities and possibilities and the space, I decided to say yes." More than a dozen sailors on the carrier are from Guam.
She said the Navy has assured the local community will be protected.
The first of the COVID-19-free sailors are expected to be transported initially to two hotels – the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort and Dusit Thani Guam Resort. More hotels are being considered, but the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association could not initially confirm the names of the hotels.
The quarantine comes at a time when some of Guam's largest hotels have suspended or downsized operations because most international flights into Guam have been canceled. Fewer and fewer passengers are arriving and arrivals slowed to a trickle when the local government's 14-day quarantine requirement applied to most travelers – even those in transit and regardless of origin.
Modly emphasised that the Navy will not remove every sailor from the warship.
"This ship has weapons on it. It has munitions on it. It has expensive aircraft, and it has a nuclear power plant. It requires a certain number of people on that ship to maintain safety and security,” he said.
Sailors who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be restricted in isolation facilities on the Navy base, Adm. John Menoni, commander of Joint Region Marianas, told Guam government officials.
Menoni joined Leon Guerrero in a press briefing Thursday.
Each one of the sailors who will be moved to certain Guam hotels will be under a direct order to stay in quarantine. "Any sailor who violates that lawful order will be subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Menoni said.
The military has said security will be posted on each floor of designated quarantine hotels and in the perimeter of the hotels. They’re not allowed to go to beaches.
“I take this seriously. There is nobody that's going to violate an order on my watch,” Menoni said.
The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force is sending 40 medical professionals to Guam this week.
As the number of cases grows on Guam, the number of close contacts requiring quarantine multiplies, according to the governor's office.
The Department of Public Health and Social Services advises that if you suspect you were a close contact to a confirmed case, start your own self-quarantine.
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 – fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell and/or taste – isolate yourself in a separate bedroom and call your health care provider or the medical triage hotline at 311, DPHSS advised.
SOURCE: THE GUAM DAILY POST/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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