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Guam governor says island in ‘third wave’; eases fears of tighter lockdown

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(The Guam Daily Post) — Guam is in the “third wave” of Covid-19 infections, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said in a speech at the Rotary Club of Guam meeting on Thursday.

Guam saw its 101st Covid-19-related fatality Thursday.

Leon Guerrero said the surge was due in part to an increase in cases in the construction industry.

But despite the growing number of positive cases, she eased fears of stricter lockdown measures. She said her administration will instead take a targeted approach toward containing the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

“With the cluster, you are able to contain it more,” she said, “That is why you are starting to see now a downward trend in the positives again. It’s not going down as fast as I would like but you will see the trends are going down.”

She noted Guam currently has much stricter measures in place than a lot of U.S. states.

Leon Guerrero said if the island’s Covid Area Risk or CAR score drops to below five and stays that way for two weeks, she would “feel more comfortable that we could enjoy the holidays.” The CAR score takes into account incidents of new cases per day, how well the testing is able to identify cases and the rate of spread over a seven-day rolling period.

As of Wednesday, Guam's Covid Area Risk was 20.3, more than four times the level needed for the easing of rules for the holiday season.

At this rate, the governor acknowledged, it might be too late for the risk score to drop significantly, in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“I don’t think we are going to make it for Thanksgiving,” she said, adding she is awaiting guidelines in regard to the holiday from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and will monitor the numbers this week and over the weekend.

She said most of the positive cases and the spread of Covid-19 originated at social gatherings.

Leon Guerrero admitted she is “very worried” about gatherings leading to a further spread, noting Canada saw a significant rise in cases two weeks after their Thanksgiving. She advised the community to hold off on gatherings so that “we can enjoy Christmas.”

She also said if the numbers stay low enough she is “not averse” to possibly requiring home quarantine as opposed to the government facility quarantine required for at least six days for those entering Guam.

Concerned when federal funds expire

And while Leon Guerrero reported that the government of Guam closed fiscal year 2019 with a “good audit” — which showed GovGuam reduced the deficit of about $83 million by 42% — she said she is concerned about 2021 when federal government assistance will expire.

However, she expressed optimism that the incoming Biden administration will continue to offer a federal lifeline during the ongoing pandemic.

“I’m pretty sure with President-Elect Biden coming in, he will do something for more financial assistance, for more financial assistance for states and territories to help with the economy and help with people who are not working and whose businesses have closed,” she said, “Certainly we will be working very closely with this new administration just like we did with the current administration.

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