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Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, center, and Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio, right, check out the USS Theodore Roosevelt with Rear Adm. John Menoni, commander of Joint Region Marianas, at Naval Base Guam, May 21, 2020.
Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, center, and Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio, right, check out the USS Theodore Roosevelt with Rear Adm. John Menoni, commander of Joint Region Marianas, at Naval Base Guam, May 21, 2020. (Thomas Turner/U.S. Navy)

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Guam’s governor announced that the island had reached the ‘sobering point’ of 50 coronavirus deaths Friday, the day after signing an executive order relaxing more pandemic restrictions.

A 72-year-old woman died Friday evening at Guam Memorial Hospital, becoming the U.S. territory’s 50th virus-related fatality. A statement from the office of Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said the patient had underlying health conditions and had already tested positive when she was admitted on Sept. 16.

“Earlier this evening, we reached a sobering point we hoped we would never achieve. We lost our 50th soul to COVID-19,” Guerrero said, using the name of the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. “These people are more than numbers — they’re fathers, mothers, children, siblings, members of our community.”

Over the weekend, the virus claimed two more patients, both women, ages 66 and 90.

As of late Friday, the island had recorded a pandemic total of 2,617 coronavirus infections. At least 274 of those have been U.S. service members.

Since mid-August, Guam has been under a government-mandated “Pandemic Condition of Readiness 1” that shuttered businesses and churches, forced schools to use virtual instruction, prohibited most public gatherings and closed parks and beaches.

Last week, Guerrero changed a stay-at-home order to a “safer-at-home advisory” that allowed some businesses, including restaurants, to operate at 25% capacity.

She signed an executive order on Thursday authorizing additional freedoms. Social gatherings of up to five people have been allowed as of 8 a.m. Saturday, and parks, beaches and swimming pools can reopen. Churches, fitness centers and dance studios may also operate, as long as they remain at 25% capacity.

As of Monday morning, child care centers can reopen and sports organizations may request authorization to carry on with noncontact training.

“I know many of us are done with this pandemic, but this virus isn’t done with us,” Guerrero said in Friday’s statement. “With each moment of silence for a life gone too soon, we must also strengthen our commitment to protecting each other and our island.”

news@stripes.com Twitter: @starsandstripes

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