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NEWS: April 13 suspected COVID-19 death wasn't tested at GMH

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

No PUI who died at GMH prior to April 15 was tested at GMH

By Eric Rosario

(Tamuning, Guam) An unreported number of people who died and were suspected of having the Coronavirus were not tested at Guam Memorial Hospital between the start of the public health emergency in mid-March through April 14.

That's because GMH did not start testing in-house until April 15. The Leon Guerrero administration continues to ignore media questions on the matter.

Kandit first reported Friday about a 60-year-old woman, who died at GMH of "Suspected COVID-19 Infection," according to a Physicians Worksheet for Death Certificate GMH document validated by the Joint Information Center.

The government of Guam has not reported any COVID-19 related deaths since April 11. When asked, the Department of Public Health and Social Services said that GMH did not report any such death to the COVID-19 Incident Command after April 11. DPHSS spokeswoman Grace Bordallo told Kandit to inquire with GMH about the suspected death and whether that person was tested for Coronavirus.

Suspected COVID-19 deaths are supposed to be reported pending laboratory confirmation, and those persons under investigation are supposed to be tested.

GMH administrator Lillian Perez-Posadas on Monday replied to Kandit with assurances that all test results from GMH are reported to Incident Command, and from there that information is reported to the public by the Joint Information Center.

Ms. Perez-Posadas, when pressed to clarify whether the April 13 death was tested, and how that test could have been done at GMH if the Abbott ID NOW machine for testing was not operational until two days later, has refused to acknowledge the inquiry since Monday. Kandit has followed up several times about this issue and to confirm whether others who died at GMH and were suspected of having Coronavirus were tested by the Guam Public Health Laboratory prior to April 15.

Public Health, however, said they did not conduct the testing on suspected COVID-19 deaths, and that that was GMH's job to do.

A review of the daily tables of testing done in Guam since April 13 reveals a daily testing count from each site, where a testing machine is used to get a positive or negative COVID-19 test result. The April 13 table shows that one person was clinically diagnosed as having COVID-19, but no deaths are reported for that day.

Noted below each table from April 15 forward is the fact that GMH did not start testing until April 15. On that day, 13 people tested negative. On April 16, no tests were run. The following day, 19 more tests were run, for a total of 32 tests run at GMH since April 15. All returned negative results.

The following day, April 18, however, the total test count at GMH goes down, from 32 to 29. Neither GMH nor Public Health have explained how this is possible.

Of greater concern is the manner in which testing is conducted since an April 15 notice by Abbott Laboratories that the process of storing test kits samples in a solution prior to testing in its Abbott ID NOW machines has a high likelihood of yielding a false negative result.

Kandit also has asked the Joint Information Center whether the government will be calling back those who tested negative recently to retest according to the instructions Abbott Laboratories has put out.

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