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Local military leaders participate in a COVID-19 tabletop exercise with Department of Defense Education Activity at William C. McCool Elementary and Middle School, Oct. 1, 2020.
Local military leaders participate in a COVID-19 tabletop exercise with Department of Defense Education Activity at William C. McCool Elementary and Middle School, Oct. 1, 2020. (MacAdam Kane Weissman/U.S. Navy)

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Students enrolled at Defense Department schools on Guam wrapped up their first day of in-person learning Monday, hours before the island announced its 75th coronavirus fatality.

The U.S. territory’s pandemic death toll reached into the 70s early Saturday when a 55-year-old man died after being hospitalized since Oct. 10, according to the Guam governor’s office. The U.S. territory recorded two more virus-related fatalities over the weekend, a 67-year-old man on Saturday evening and a 28-year-old man on Sunday.

Monday saw three more deaths. Two of those patients – a 76-year-old woman and 74-year-old man – died at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, a governor’s office statement said. The third was an 88-year-old man at Guam Memorial Hospital.

“There will come a day when social distancing and wearing a mask will no longer be required, but we don’t anticipate that day to come soon,” Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said in the statement. “Please do whatever is necessary to prevent any more days of mourning.”

As of Monday evening, the island had recorded a pandemic total of 4,336 coronavirus infections, with 1,658 cases in “active isolation.” At least 285 of the total infections have been U.S. service members.

Also on Monday, Department of Defense Education Activity schools on Guam became the last in the Pacific to resume classroom sessions. The island’s military installations – Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base – recently lowered the risk level for coronavirus transmission to moderate, a requisite by DODEA for permitting students to return to in-person learning.

Virus mitigation strategies being implemented, a DODEA statement said, include wearing masks, social distancing, physical barriers in cafeterias, and classrooms and cleaning and sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces.

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