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Guam tightens restrictions amid uptick in virus cases; eight more troops test positive

Parts of Naval Base Guam are seen from the air on Aug. 19, 2010.

PETER LEWIS/U.S. NAVY

By AARON KIDD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 14, 2020

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Guam reported 25 new coronavirus patients, eight of which are U.S. service members, on Friday as the island prepares to enter a governor-mandated “pandemic condition of readiness” taking effect Sunday.

The U.S. territory has had 502 confirmed cases and five deaths since the pandemic began, the island’s Department of Health a Social Services said in a statement Friday evening. Fifty-nine U.S. service members have tested positive.

“Of the 25 newly confirmed cases, four cases were identified through contact tracing and one case reported recent travel from the continental US and was identified in a quarantine facility,” the statement said.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, who tested positive for the illness on Aug. 8, announced Friday that Guam needs “one intense attack on the virus” and would enter “Pandemic Condition of Readiness 1” at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

The condition, which is set to expire after two weeks, shutters nonessential businesses; forces schools to shift to virtual instruction; prohibits public gatherings, including religious services; and closes parks and beaches to everyone but those who are exercising while social distancing.

In a video released Friday, Brig. Gen. Jeremy Sloane, commander of the 36th Wing at Andersen Air Force Base, said a “moderate” health alert remains in effect and that they would continue to work toward opening on-base schools.

“We will remain disciplined, we will wear masks, we will practice good hygiene, we will social distance, and we will continue to abide by our local community policies and restrictions,” he said. “Despite the recent uptick in [coronavirus] cases in the community, I’m optimistic that with a team approach and patience we will move back to normal.”

In a Friday memo, the commander of Joint Region Marianas, which oversees installations including Andersen and Naval Base Guam, urged troops not to let their guard down amid the rise in cases.

“It only takes one irresponsible act to cause community spread; a disregard for the basic rules to wear a mask, to physically distance, and to wash hands,” wrote Rear Adm. John Menoni. “At the first sign of a significant threat to public health or mission readiness, I will not hesitate to implement more restrictive measures including, but not limited to, restricting access to large congregation areas where physical distancing and other risk mitigation measures are difficult to maintain.”

kidd.aaron@stripes.com
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