Coronavirus Risk Is Real
As per reports, 2,700 people have died with 80,000 infected. That is a death rate of 3%. While coronavirus has a much lower death rate than SARS did, it has a MUCH higher infection rate.
Less advanced countries are experiencing higher death rates so that number can change. Also high density populations of course are experiencing higher infection rates.
With a global population of 7.5 billion people, a 100% infection rate will result in 225 million deaths.
For Guam, a population of 170,000 people could experience 5,100 deaths.
At the current rate and spread of infection it really is only a matter of time before coronavirus finds it's way to Guam. Even banning all inbound tourism wouldn't be enough, because many of our people/residents still come and go on flights and through airports, and any shipment or fly-in of goods will include interaction between crews and ports.
With tourism critical for us to keep hospitals and clinics running and medicine in stock, with our people needing to travel for medical or family needs, and with a 90% dependence on imports to stock our shelves and put food on the table, it is impossible to consider closing ourselves off to the rest of the world and not actually exacerbating our risk of virus impact.
We need to manage the fear of this risk by being prepared to address the day when the virus is confirmed on Guam.
Managing this fear includes communicating clearly with the public what is being looked at and what is being prepared for the eventuality.
In my capacity as Congressman I have been in communication with local military officials to emphasize that protocols need to be firmly in place for how infections are to be handled and how suspicious infections are to be managed. I also asked them to take such protocols up the chain to enable sharing them with the local government, and to consider sharing with the public as well any non-classified protocols to reassure readiness.
Also, I have asked that military trainings be reconsidered particularly in areas experiencing high rates of spread.
Additionally, we will ensure that all federal coronavirus resources include a Guam allocation.
Individually, healthy lifestyles and diligent hygiene are best practices for our people, as well as taking care to take all flu symptoms very seriously and not be public as a caution. Do not hesitate to go to the doctor, as timeliness in infection management is key to getting through safely.
Clear local protocols for handling suspected cases and confirmed infections need to be in place, and should be communicated with the public for reassurance. Beyond direct health risk, Guam needs to manage global economic risk and its indirect impact on local health readiness. The local government needs to develop austerity plans that would enable us to keep resources in place to fully address any infection, in the event tax resources become constrained from economic contraction.
Guam, no where else in the world manages better than we do when it comes to calamity. We come together better than anywhere, and we recover faster than anyone - no storm or earthquake has ever dampened our resiliency.
Let's employ the same steadfast determination and show the rest of the world how it's done.
- Michael F.Q. San Nicolas