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Guam's outdoor mask mandate and some other COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted April 19, 2022, if it can remain a low-risk community for 14 days, the island's governor wrote in a recent executive order.

Guam's outdoor mask mandate and some other COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted April 19, 2022, if it can remain a low-risk community for 14 days, the island's governor wrote in a recent executive order. (Pexels)

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Guam’s outdoor mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions could soon be history if the island can remain a low-risk community, according to standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services lowered the U.S. territory’s risk level on Tuesday, according to a statement Wednesday from Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s office.

Low-risk communities have less than 200 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the “past seven days,” the CDC’s website says. They also have less than 10 out of 100,000 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in a “seven-day total” and more than 90% of their hospital beds empty over a “seven-day average.”

The island’s outdoor mask mandate, restrictions on indoor gatherings and social distancing requirements will be lifted April 19 if it can remain at low risk for 14 days, Guerrero wrote in an executive order March 29. An indoor mask mandate will remain in place until May 3.

Under the current restrictions, venues must limit occupancy to 25 people indoors and 100 outdoors, and people must stay at least six feet apart.

“Lifting the outdoor mask mandate, social gathering, and social distancing requirements does not mean the public health emergency is over,” Guerrero said in Wednesday’s statement. “As a community, we should be proud of our progress and the vigilance we have practiced to this point.”

Those who are vulnerable to COVID-19 should continue to wear masks in public and in health care settings, Paco-San Agustin told Stars and Stripes in an email this week. Businesses may opt for their own stricter policies.

Guam reported 52 new coronavirus cases and 15 hospitalizations on Thursday, according to Guam’s Joint Information Center. That’s five more cases and the same number of hospitalizations recorded a week ago.

Guam has confirmed 47,514 cases and 352 deaths so far during the pandemic, according to the center. There are 295 people in quarantine and none on a ventilator.

Defense Department personnel accounted for nine of Thursday’s cases, acting Joint Region Marianas spokeswoman Catherine Norton wrote in a statement emailed to Stars and Stripes on Thursday. There are 113 active infections in the island’s DOD community, she said.

No one is hospitalized for COVID-19 at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, the information center reported.

“Overall, the seven-day average daily case rate is trending downward and we anticipate this trend to continue,” Norton wrote. “Joint Region Marianas and its installations on Guam are seeing noticeable improvements in the number of COVID-19 cases.”

The command lifted on-base mask requirements for DOD personnel and visitors on March 28, Norton said. Masks are still required indoors in some facilities, including Fleet and Family Support Center classrooms and medical and dental clinics.

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.
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