Dear Guam Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero: Now that this global pandemic has reached our shores, with 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of last night, one thing is certain, the public needs more answers. As an elected official, just as yourself, we have a responsibility to our constituency. Over the last few days I have been bombarded with island residents seeking more details on these cases and other issues related to the coronavirus. Being in the health care industry prior to my role as a senator, I recognize privacy laws. While we don’t expect our government to release any names or pertinent information of the patients, we expect to at least provide information such as the possible whereabouts of these individuals so that island residents can take additional precautionary measures with their families. That is not asking for too much.
The island is in a state of panic, and a lot of this has to do with the lack of information being circulated by the government. It was unfortunate that through third party information, the community learned last night that several patients who were diagnosed with the virus were sent home for isolation versus being placed at the designated isolation center at the Skilled Nursing Facility in Barrigada Heights. While there is probably a medical reason that may justify this decision, from the perspective of the community, we have added a greater level of exposure to not only the family members of this individual, but also those whom they may be in contact with. But of course, with transparency and additional information, we would have a better understanding and details of this policy, hence provide island residents an assurance that safety is paramount.
If we are able to provide the potential whereabouts of patients, even if it is vague, I can assure you that the number of home, self-quarantined cases will drastically increase, hence it would help reduce the risk of exposure. Information was provided on the flight number and arrival dates of the first few cases, but the details ended shortly after. I am certain that many of those who were on those flights took the initiative to self-quarantine or sought a test in the event that they had symptoms. But what about providing the flight information for the other patients who traveled to provide fellow passengers a similar opportunity. The more details provided to the community without impacting privacy laws, should help reduce the chaos in the community, and now more than ever, that is needed. Whether it is about advising on when the next kits or additional ventilators will arrive on island or a health status update of the medical staff at the Guam Memorial Hospital exposed to the fiasco this past week, our people need answers.
We are facing tumultuous times, and I am optimistic in the resiliency of our community, and that we will certainly rebound from this crisis. But in the meantime, we must weather this storm together, and in order to reduce our community’s fears, concerns, and paranoia, our government must be more transparent, which means providing our residents as much information as possible on what is going on and what progress has been made. Once again, that is not asking for too much.
Sen. James “Jim” C. Moylan
35th Guam Legislature