On May 4, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has raised Guam’s COVID risk level from 2 to 3.
Level 3: High level of COVID-19
- Travelers should avoid all nonessential travel to these destinations.
Level 2: Moderate level of COVID-19
- Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid all nonessential travel to these destinations.
Guam’s Joint Information Center announced May 3 three COVID-19 samples from Guam indicated the presence of a B.1.1.7 variant strain, commonly called the U.K variant.
Previously on March 19, seven samples were identified with the B.1.429 variant strain, commonly called the California variant.
Results of 61 samples to date have not shown results of other variants. The CDC lowered Guam’s risk level to Level 2 on April 6.
United Airlines announced May 3 in Chicago in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the MileagePlus program in May, the airline is giving away four million miles to essential healthcare workers. As a contest that MileagePlus members can participate in with nominations at united.com/essentialthanks, four healthcare workers will be presented with one million miles each. In addition, United will also offer members around the world “domestic and international fare sales, surprise customer giveaways and 10 exclusive promotions with MileagePlus partners,” the airline said.
Grants and funding
- The American Recovery Plan Act includes a $28.6billion fund to aid restaurants, also known as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, dispensed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
After residents in the Mariana Islands were initially confronted in the verification process by their phone numbers not being recognized as part of the U.S., Kenneth Lujan, branch manager for the Guam SBA office advised the Journal on May 2 that the SBA had been aware of the issue when the portal opened. “We were working on it diligently and I am happy to say that the problem was resolved. From all indications, applicants can register online now.”
On May 3, the Guam Department of Administration Emergency Rental Assistance program began cycle two of accepting tenant pre-applications. The cycle began on May 3 and will end on May 21. The U.S. Department of the Treasury awarded $33.6 million to assist Guam’s rental households. This program provides renters impacted by COVID-19 with rent, rental arrears, utilities, and utility arrears assistance for up to 15 months, with payments made directly to landlords and utility agencies.
The program does not cover arrears incurred prior to March 13, 2020. Applicants must continue to meet the program’s three eligibility criteria: 1) Qualifies for Unemployment Benefits OR experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to COVID 19; and 2) Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and 3) Has a household income at or below 80% of the Guam area median income.
Pre-application and landlord forms are available on DOA’s website, at www.doa.guam.gov.
The Guam Housing Corp. updated to Guam’s COVID19 Mortgage Relief Program. GHC received approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to use the Internal Revenue Service 1040 Adjusted Gross Income method to determine income eligibility under the program. The IRS 1040 process excludes real property assets from household income which in many cases resulted in applicants being deemed ineligible for mortgage relief assistance. Applications will be accepted until June 4. The updated application packet is available for re-application on GHC‘s website at www.guamhousing.org.
Guam may benefit from halt to border wall construction
President Joseph R. Biden canceled May 1 U.S. Department of Defense funding for the U.S. border wall with Mexico, previously ordered by former President Donald J. Trump.
DoD said on May 1 in a release, “With this cancellation, unobligated military construction funds that had been diverted from military construction projects will be used for previously deferred military construction projects, allowing some of these critical efforts to move forward as soon as possible. The Department is reviewing the deferred project list to determine funding prioritization.”
According to Journal files, about $243 million in Guam construction projects were shelved in September 2019.
First Hawaiian Bank announced the launch of its new mobile banking app. The app provides “account tools that make it easy to track spending, set monthly budgets, aggregate and view all financial accounts in one place, and receive account insights that help you manage your money,” according to an April 29 release. The app is customizable.
Atkins Kroll Toyota announced April 27 the pre- arrival of the 2021 Toyota Sienna, hybrid vehicle, and the availability of the first vehicle in its showroom.
First lady Patricia Edwin of the Federated States of Micronesia opened a three-Day Plastic Repurposing Training Workshop on April 27 to teach creative skill sets to make jewelry, and decorative household items, to be followed by similar workshops in Yap, Kosrae and Chuuk. The workshops are sponsored by the FSM Department of Resources & Development and the South Pacific Tourism Organization and are aimed at displaced hospitality industry workers.
Events and celebrations
- The Saipan Chamber of Commerce will hold a general membership meeting on May 5, featuring David DLG Atalig, secretary of the Department of Finance for the Northern Mariana Islands. The chamber’s incoming executive director will also be announced.
- The Guam Visitors Bureau will hold a virtual membership meeting in partnership with the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association and the Guam Chamber of Commerce on May 6 from 10 a.m. to noon.
- Guam Community College will hold its 2021 Motorcade Graduation ceremony on May 14, on the GCC Mangilao campus. The Motorcade Graduation is open to all graduates from Summer 2019 through Spring 2021 sessions.
- The Northern Marianas College commencement will be held May 22.
- The University of Guam’s commencement will be held May 23. More than 350 graduates are expected to attend the in-person event.
- The Armed Forces Committee of the Guam Chamber of Commerce will hold a members-only virtual general membership meeting on May 17, featuring Brig. Gen. Jeremy T. Sloane, commander of the 36th Wing at Andersen Air Force Base.
- The Guam Chamber of Commerce will hold a virtual general membership meeting on May 26, featuring the FBI Guam Office, which will address issues with cyber fraud. mbj