First Guam PAC announced

The first of the 2022 political action groups in Guam announced its revival for this year’s elections in Guam.

The Action PAC’s “membership is made up of concerned individuals, constituents, nonprofit organizations, and business entities on Guam who believes that its citizens should have a stronger voice in shaping Guam’s political and economic future. As a nonprofit, political action committee, Action PAC does not identify with a specific political party and is made up of Guam residents and members of seven nonprofit organizations,” according to a Jan. 25 release.

The group’s member organizations are the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Guam Chamber of Commerce, the Guam Contractors Association, the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association, the Guam Realtors Association, the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Korean Chamber of Commerce, according to the release.

It’s aims are the “rolling back of the BPT (business privilege tax) from 5% to 4% or less; rightsizing the Government of Guam for greater efficiency; improving the transparency in all levels of the government and promoting open communication and collaboration between the public and private sectors; strengthening relations with the U.S. military to improve safety and security in the region and [to] maximize economic opportunities for Guam; and support for a part-time legislature.”

The group also named Phillip Leddy II as executive director. He is also the director of sales, marketing, and business development at Guam Copier and is an independent COVID19 testing facilitator for Guam and Saipan. 

The group’s chairwoman is Christine Won Pat Baleto, chief financial officer for Docomo Pacific, immediate past chairwoman of the Guam Chamber of Commerce and a board member, and its vice chairman is George Chiu, executive vice president of Tan Holdings and chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Political action groups in Guam sent out releases prior to the last general election approving a list of senatorial candidates.

In November 2020, the Journal published the results of how many on the various lists were elected to the 15 senatorial seats:

Guam Association of Realtors: 9

 Action PAC: 7

Sharon O’Mallan and the Esperanza Project (yes/no on legal abortion): 7

Progressive Democrats: 5

As the Journal reported (see www.mbjguam.com), in the last election successful Guam senators elected were either incumbents or had previously served as senators.

 

New Guam COVID regs coming, may spur reluctance to dine out; JRM new regs out

At a media briefing on Jan. 24, officials with the Guam Department of Health and Social Services revealed upcoming plans for COVID regulations. These largely affect individuals who are “close contacts” of a person who has tested positive. According to Fernando Esteves, incident commander for COVID-19 with DPHSS and a former senator, Day 5 testing will be suspended for close contacts, unless they are symptomatic, providing they are fully vaccinated. Close contacts will not need to isolate either. However, symptomatic individuals who test positive will still need to isolate for five days. “The caveat to that is we’re going to recommend everybody that’s symptomatic gets tested,” Esteves said. In addition, he said DPHSS would recommend that those who are high-risk also get tested. That would include those above 65 years of age and those not fully vaccinated, he said.

Dr. Robert Leon Guerrero, interim chief medical officer said of Guam’s high testing numbers, “We’re definitely exceeding the national tests per capita.” As to the shortage of tests on Guam, he described the situation as “volatile.”

DPHSS will be rationing test kits.

Esteves said, “The appointment system will remain. We will also accommodate as many people as possible.”

As the Journal reported, test shortages abound due to President Joseph R. Biden’s initiative to send home test kits out across the U.S. mainland, to include the islands.

The U.S. Department of Defense awarded another order for 50 million kits to Siemens Jan. 25 CHamoru Standard Time.

Leon Guerrero told the Journal that Guam’s positives are “still unfortunately at the family level,” though clearly the spread is to the school and adult working population. As to whether the Omicron variant will disappear as quickly as it has permeated Guam, officials said the island is following what is happening in South Africa, Europe and the U.S. mainland, but that Guam may not have yet reached a plateau.

The Joint Information Center release of Jan. 24 contained no information on the upcoming guidelines.

Meanwhile a Journal subscriber called Jan. 25 to verify media reports on the upcoming regulations. The subscriber said, “Why would I go to a restaurant if the government says an exposed person – and potentially a carrier – could be serving me?” Vaccination does not stop an individual being a COVID carrier, the reader said.  

According to the release, from Jan. 22 to Jan. 24 the Department of Public Health and Social Services reported 662 new cases of COVID-19, with 151 of these cases reported through the Department of Defense. “The 662 new cases does not include cases previously reported,” the release said. The breakdown of the cumulative results is:
Jan. 24: 165 of 561 test positive for COVID-19

Jan. 23: 538 of 2,301 test positive for COVID-19, (356 cases previously reported on Jan. 23). 

Jan. 22: 700 of 2,261 test positive for COVID-19 (385 cases previously reported on Jan. 22)

Officials said that DPHSS would be prioritizing what treatments it had as the island was also awaiting further doses of medication designed to treat COVID. The various treatments include monoclonal antibody therapies, Regeneron, COVID-19 antiviral pills Paxlovid and Molnupiravir.

According to the Jan. 24 release the Mangilao monoclonal antibody therapy clinic has “temporarily closed” and Guam Memorial hospital has also suspended similar services due to a shortage. 

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. in the Northern Mariana Islands announced Jan. 25 it has the following therapeutics, authorized under Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, available to treat eligible patients who have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.

  • REGEN-COV – monoclonal antibody given intravenously (into your bloodstream) or subcutaneously (under your skin)
  • Bamlanivimab and etesevimab – monoclonal antibody given intravenously

 

To reduce the risk of severe illness in patients with mild symptoms infected with the Delta or Omicron variant:

  • Sotrovimab – monoclonal antibody given intravenously
  • Veklury (remdesivir) – antiviral given intravenously, daily for 3 days
  • Paxlovid – antiviral given orally
  • Molnupiravir – antiviral given orally

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (a drug given to prevent disease or infection) in patients not yet infected, to reduce the risk of severe illness from the Delta or Omicron variant:

  • Evusheld – long-acting monoclonal antibody given intramuscularly (into the muscle)

Treatment in the hospital for COVID-19 infection, Delta or Omicron variant:

  • Remdesivir – antiviral given intravenously, daily for 5 days
  • Tocilizumab – given intravenously
  • Baricitinib – alternative to tocilizumab
  • Sarilumab – alternative to tocilizumab

 In related news, Joint Region Marianas updated its policy for isolation and close-contact quarantine Jan. 25.

“Individuals identified as positive for COVID-19 will isolate for a period of 10 days. Vaccinated individuals who are identified as positive may discontinue isolation after at least five days have passed since symptoms appeared and at least 24 hours have passed with no fever and without using fever-reducing medication. Vaccinated or boosted personnel discontinuing isolation after five days should wear a mask around others at all times for an additional five days.

“Individuals identified as close contacts of a COVID-positive case will quarantine for a period of 10 days, which may be reduced to seven days if a negative COVID-19 test is obtained 5-7 days after starting quarantine.

“Those who are fully vaccinated but have not obtained a booster dose will undergo quarantine for a period of five days, provided that they remain asymptomatic.

“Quarantine is not required for asymptomatic close contacts who previously tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days or were vaccinated and have received a booster dose, completed their primary dosages of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) within six months, or completed a primary vaccination with a Johnson & Johnson vaccine within two months.

“This policy is applicable to all Department of Defense active-duty personnel or activated reserve members, DoD civilians, dependents, DoD contractors holding a DoD-issued Common Access Cards who are permanently or temporarily assigned to units on Guam.”

 

Bank announces financial results

Bank of Hawaii Corp. announced Jan. 25 financial results for the 2021, to include the fourth quarter.

The bank reported “diluted earnings per common share for 2021 was $6.25, up from $3.86 in 2020. For the fourth quarter of 2021, diluted earnings per common share was $1.55, up from $1.06 in the fourth quarter of 2020.Net income for 2021 was $253.4 million, up 64.7% from net income of 2020. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2021 was $63.8 million, up 50.9% from the fourth quarter of 2020.

Core loans increased 6.2% and deposit growth increased 11.8% for 2021,” the bank said.

See www.boh.com for further details.

 

NMI governor issues statement on animal care non-profit lease issue

The local non-profit organization Saipan Cares for Animals recently announced its plan to close its animal shelter due to a decision made by the CNMI Zoning Board.

The Office of the Governor said in a Jan. 24 release that “While the Zoning Board did inform SCA of the need to halt its operations by Jan. 31, the zoning board did not mandate SCA to vacate the premises. 

Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres will be meeting with Saipan Cares and the Zoning board, he said, as well as committing to the organization’s grant of $300,000 from ARPA funding, as well as “any additional support they may need.”

See “Saipan to open new animal shelter; non-profit helping strays,” in the Dec 7, 2020, issue of the Journal, for further details and background on the shelter in As Perdido. The previous animal shelter was damaged in 2015 by Typhoon Soudelor, according to the Journal’s story.

 

Illegal cockfighting suspected on island

Under the federal law, as of Dec. 20, 2019, cockfighting on Guam, in addition to other territories and all 50 states, is illegal.

On Jan. 25, Animal Wellness Action released a video of an illegal cockfighting derby on island, where a Guam Department of Agriculture law enforcement agent can be seen, and all other participants and spectators were masked. The fight is considered to have happened on Jan. 15, when AWA obtained drone footage of a gathering at The Dome, a long-time fighting venue for cockfighters.

Wayne Pacelle, president, AWA, estimates there were 44 cars at The Dome on the date of the alleged fight.

“All it takes is one person who is angry at you,” he said in reference to the illegal fights, “to then release a video and expose what you’re doing and expose you to serious penalties.”

“There are plenty of other things people can do with themselves for entertainment,” he said.

AWA also announced it has been involved in early-stage discussions with key personnel at the Guam Department of Agriculture about setting up a more rigorous standard for barring imports of fighting animals to Guam.

According to a Jan. 25 press release from AWA, “Animal Wellness Action has been demanding that the Guam Department of Agriculture stop acting as a pass-through operation for the movement of fighting animals to the island. The group is calling on the agency to place a moratorium on the approval of any adult roosters shipped to the island and then adopt formal standards to be sure that exporters and importers of live animals are not involved in animal fighting activities.”

Data from the DOA reveal a total of 2,138 fighting animals were transported to Guam in 2021, and AWA documents that 11,323 fighting birds came onto the island through import permits granted by the DOA.

Penalties allow for a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for perpetrators; one year in prison and a $5,000 fine for spectators.

“I’m excited about the possibility of change on Guam, and new policies for the Department of Agriculture,” said Pacelle.

Animal Wellness Action seeks additional tips on illegal cockfighting at [email protected] The organization maintains the website, www.endcockfighting.org, a comprehensive resource about the subject and an action center for citizens who want to help combat these animal cruelty crimes.

 

And also:

Atkins Kroll will host a job fair at the Micronesia Mall on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30 to fill more than 20 positions. The job fair will be held at the Macy’s Men’s entrance at suites 108 and 109 on the first floor of the mall, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days.

Vacancies include various corporate positions such as financial reporting analyst, financial planning and analysis manager, internal auditor, human resources manager, and supply and demand manager, as well as automotive positions. Those at Morrico Equipment – which AK purchased late in 2021 – include heavy equipment sales manager and parts manager, and operations supervisor for Trash and Diesel, according to a Jan. 24 release.

 

Retail alerts:

GTA announced the launch of Wireless Home Internet, which can wirelessly deliver home high-speed internet with speeds up to 100 Mbps. The service is for customers living in areas that cannot get traditional GTA high-speed services that Fiber to the Neighborhood provides. GTA Wireless Home Internet is available in Yigo (Upi and Marianas Terrace), Nimitz Estates, Santa Rita, Ipan, Malojloj, Inajaran, and Merizo (Pigua).

Rates – also for bundling – are available at www.gta.net/internet/wireless-home-internet/

T Galleria in Guam is participating in the DFS Group’s Lunar New Year Gift Guide with a lion dance and in-store celebrations on Feb. 1. The Guam T Galleria will offer a variety of in-store promotions and discounts through Feb. 28, according to a Jan. 24 release. See

Docomo Pacific announced a partnership with Beyond the Box, located in the Micronesia Mall in Guam. Beyond the Box will be the exclusive dealer for customers looking to buy Apple iPhone products without an annual contract, also offering Docomo wireless services. mbj