Roll up your sleeves for next round of vaccines; lines form at UOG

U.S. military personnel in Guam can register for a second round of vaccinations Feb. 9 under “Phase Level 1B Sub-Tier 3,” according to Naval Hospital Guam. The hospital received a first shipment in January, and now has its second delivery. Vaccines are being administered at Top O’ the Mar, with personnel being able to schedule appointments.

That sub-tier refers in general to “individuals 65 and older and frontline workers.”

Guam’s Department of Public Health and Social Services will begin another round of vaccinations at the University of Guam Fieldhouse Feb. 9 (today), prioritizing second doses of Pfizer and Moderna this week through Feb. 13.

Janela B. Carrera, spokesperson for DPHSS told the Journal registrations are going well. “It’s fully booked for certain days. We are encouraging people to book early.”

DPHSS announced that residents aged 70 and above could go to the head of the line for vaccination. A long line of vehicles had already formed at the UOG Fieldhouse at 12.30 p.m. on Feb. 9 (today), according to a Journal reader.

As to when Guam might reach its goal of vaccination, Carrera said, “It’s really difficult to say what our end date will be because of supplies. If we were going at the rate we’re going now we would reach herd immunity by December.” However, she said if Guam receives the 40,000 doses a month it has requested, “We could potentially reach herd immunity by July.”

That would mean seeing about 100,000 people vaccinated, Carrera said.

Guam is currently continuing to vaccinate individuals in the 55-plus age group.

Carrera said the age limit was lowered to 55-plus “in consideration of the mortality rate here on Guam; it quadrupled in the 55-plus category.” The mortality rate is not high for residents between 50 and 55 years of age.

As to essential workers, she said, “We’ve already started opening it up to essential workers in the government sector. We’ve asked them to narrow it down by tier.” The government sector of essential workers is estimated at about 5,000 people, she said. Additional essential workers include those at mortuaries and cemeteries as well as service providers.

The 60-plus age group in Guam is estimated at about 19,000 people, with about 10,000 in the 55-plus age group, Carrera said.


Telecom co tests driverless vehicle

Docomo Pacific LLC announced Feb. 8 that it had tested Sony Corp.’s driverless cart – the SC-1 in Guam, through NTT’s partnership with Docomo.

The cart looks like a small van.

Driven by personnel in Tokyo, the driverless vehicle was “powered” by Docomo’s 5G and “is part of the Docomo 5G Open Lab Guam project,” the release said. Results of the trial will be used to verify data transmission and operational performance required to remotely control the cart from a long distance. Rodney Boss, president and CEO of Docomo Pacific, told the Journal, “They have incredible [research and development].”

Sony and NTT Docomo Inc. originally announced the testing in Guam in March 2019.

Boss said the vehicle was shipped to Guam last year.

The Docomo lab “can be used to develop use cases and also be a place to showcase technology,” he said. One of the initial concepts was to take the vehicle down to Tumon and showcase it to tourists, particularly as it has monitors on the outside. “There were some people interested in that,” Boss said.

Docomo’s 5G “hot spots” are at Skinner Plaza in Hagatna and Gov. Joseph Flores Memorial Park, also known as Ypao Beach Park in Guam and the American Memorial Park in Saipan, as well as at its Tamuning headquarters and service center.

Boss said consumers in the Mariana Islands whose phones are 5G-enabled are not presently being charged for the service, he said. “As the business demands grow – as the use cases grow, I’ll expand the network,” he said. Docomo expects that the 5G market will grow with coming consumer demand. “We drive our competitors along with us,” Boss said.

Docomo Pacific tested a driverless vehicle at its HQ property.
Photo courtesy of Docomo Pacific


Guam governor and 36th Legislature move to support justice’s retention

Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero wrote to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in support of the re-nomination of Chief Justice Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood ass Chief Justice of the District Court of Guam. The 36th Guam Legislature is in the process of transmitting a resolution in support of Gatewood, who has served as chief justice since 2006. The governor’s letter detailed Gatewood’s career.


And then there were 12: Micronesia presidents withdraw from PIF

It’s official. The five Micronesia members of the Pacific Island Forum announced Feb. 9 the beginning of the “process of formal withdrawal,” following what they said was the lapse of a “gentlemen’s agreement” to elect one of their members as the next secretary general of the PIF.

The members are the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Kiribati. This leaves the forum with 12 members after the withdrawal of the five North Pacific nations.


Bank issues contactless debit card

Bank of Hawaii announced Feb. 8 it is rolling out a full mass reissue of contactless cards. BOH will replace debit cards for all customers with the new contactless version over the next several weeks, regardless of expiration date. Customers will retain their same card number, but replacement cards will have a new expiration date and CVV (the three-digit “card verification value” on the back of the card). PINs will not change. The rollout is expected to be complete by April.

Contactless card payments provide the same encryption as EMV chip payments — a one-time security code unique to each transaction is generated, which the merchant terminal sends to the bank, and the bank confirms the payment.

How many merchants can accept contactless cards in Guam and other islands is not known.

Contactless cards are increasing in number in Asia and the U.S., with COVID-19 driving appeal They have existed in the United Kingdom and continental European countries for some years, but have an upper purchase limit of between 25 and 50 euros. mbj