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Seaport operations continue despite potential exposure of at least one-third of employees

By Johnnie Rosario

Seaport general manager Rory Respicio has coordinated a quick plan of action to keep the critical seaport operational after at least 126 of its 367 employees have been potentially exposed to the Coronavirus.

“Aggressive contact tracing efforts by the Port Authority of Guam, in close coordination with the Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS), has led to the identification of two more employees positive with COVID-19. This brings the Port’s total to three employees affected by COVID-19,” Respicio said. “Our three employees remain in home isolation. Their work areas have been deep cleaned. Contact tracing and testing for the first two COVID-19 positives are done, which resulted in identifying the third COVID-19 positive through testing. Our team immediately conducted contact tracing for the third COVID-19 positive, identifying additional Port employees who may have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 and their testing was conducted by DPHSS this morning.”

The seaport is the only GovGuam agency to deploy its own contact tracing protocols. The inadequate number of contact tracers with the Department of Public Health and Social Services has slowed down the government's efficient response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Last week the seaport announced the potential exposure of 59 of its employees from a single work-related source outside the seaport. They also announced the positive diagnosis of another employee outside that pool of 59. It is unclear whether the additional two positive cases are from that pool of 59, or from the balance of the 126 potentially exposed.

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines, critical infrastructure employees like seaport employees are to continue working unless they have COVID-19 symptoms.

For this reason, Mr. Respicio created a seaport clinic, where the employees are checked for symptoms at least twice daily. The seaport has logged more than 31,000 visits to the clinic by its employees and other seaport workers since the clinic opened.

“The Port Authority of Guam remains completely operational, despite the daily challenges imposed by the coronavirus pandemic because we have been following Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s directives and the Center for Disease Control Guidelines for Critical Infrastructure Worker,” concluded Respicio.
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