Håfa adai, I’m Dr. Nathaniel Berg. I’m the chair of the Physicians Advisory Group to the Governor of Guam.
The holidays brought increased travel and gatherings. Our Physicians Advisory Group and Public Health officials forecasted that this would lead to a rapid rise in cases and it has. And just like the Delta variant, there was nothing additional that we could’ve done to avoid Omicron infecting our community.
We are certain that the Omicron variant is present on our island. And what do we do when our personal health or our community health takes a sudden turn? We turn to our healthcare providers and seek guidance.
If we each take the recommendations that we’re given with urgency and sincerity, we will recover as a community.
This is what we need to do now: We know testing and treating COVID-19 as efficiently as possible will help us heal. If you are showing any signs at this point, such as a new cough, a new fever, or generally feeling fatigued, you need to get tested quickly. And if your symptoms are getting worse, you need to do more than that. You need to see your healthcare provider. Perhaps more importantly, if you are seeing a rapid progression of symptoms, you need to go to the Emergency Room.
I do not want to see any more Dead on Arrival cases. No one does. Go to the Emergency Room if you have symptoms that are progressively getting worse.
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other significant medical conditions, this becomes particularly important. I say that because around the world, most of the people who have died from Omicron have had other medical conditions.
Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated will occur. If you are vaccinated, you can still get infected. If you are vaccinated and get infected, you are much less likely to get very sick. That’s the important thing here.
Vaccines remain the best public health measure to protect the people of Guam from COVID-19 related serious illness and death.
If you haven’t already done so, as always, we continue to strongly urge that everyone 5 years and older get protected by getting fully vaccinated. It will protect you against serious COVID-19 related illness.
If you have already relaxed your personal measures–feeling okay about it–things have changed.
Now is the time for everyone to wear their mask correctly in public indoor settings and especially in areas of substantial or high community transmission, such as at school or in the healthcare environment.
Each of us doing our part to take these steps with conviction will help us control our path. As we move forward in this new phase in the pandemic, it’s incredibly important. And we continue to monitor the availability of new COVID-19 antiviral pills. These pills were recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of COVID-19. We will keep you posted as Public Health has proactively placed their orders for these antiviral pills. In fact, they did so as soon as it was approved by the FDA.
Now, the rest is truly up to you and me as a community. The Physicians Advisory Group is constantly reviewing transmission trends, updating healthcare data, and analyzing our best defense. We will keep you updated.
We do expect things to change rapidly, but Guam has performed exceptionally well throughout this pandemic and after beating three surges. We have the capability and indeed the compassion to get through this as a community again.