Nowhere to go but up

Rising gas prices at the pump have businesses and residents in Guam concerned as the price per gallon could head north of $5.50 a gallon.

Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, Guam’s delegate to Congress contacted the Federal Trade Commission last year, to ask that Guam be included in a review of oil and gas practices and prices in the U.S.

“We started this work in the Guam Legislature when I was a senator, and were unsuccessful in getting the Congressional office at the time to push the FTC to review our gas price issues on Guam,” he said in a release in October.

San Nicolas told the Journal on March 2 that his efforts have not yet been successful.

“We have met with the FTC and discussed at length the uniform price action of liquid fuel retailers on Guam. They made it plain that unless there was clear evidence of collusion or a whistleblower to that effect, similar price actions are insufficient to prove illegality.”


In other news from the Guam delegate, language from a House Resolution of San Nicolas was included in legislation in the Honoring Our Pact Act which passed the U.S. of Representatives on March 4, CHamoru Standard Time and “provides a presumption of service connection for diseases associated with exposure to certain herbicide agents” who served in Guam, Johnston Atoll between certain dates.  HR 3368 is the delegate’s bill – the Lonnie Kilpatrick Central Pacific Relief Act named after a veteran who “led the fight to recognize the use on Guam of a dioxin known as Agent Orange, and who passed away due to exposure.

The bill also expands eligibility for medical care and services.


Hawaii ends COVID travel restrictions

The Aloha state is ending the travel quarantine and the Safe Travels Hawaiʻi program after the current emergency period ends on Mar. 25, according to a March 1 release from the Office of the Governor. Beginning on March 26, passengers arriving from domestic points of origin [the U.S. mainland and U.S. territories] will not have to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a pre-travel negative test result. Incoming passengers will also no longer be required to create a Safe Travels account or provide travelers information and trip details, the release said.


Guam governor increases indoor gathering numbers

The latest executive order from Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero goes into effect on March 4 at 6 p.m. and allows for indoor congregation numbers to move from 25 people to 100. She also said the next step in easing restrictions would be raising those numbers again – possibly to removing social gathering limitations, she told the Journal.

“As we see our data, guided by science, I have begun to slowly and gradually lift restrictions,” Leon Guerrero said during the weekly Guam Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 press conference on March 3.

The governor said the mask mandate will be one of the last restrictions to go.

However, she did say, “Lifting the mask mandate will be very dependent on what our data shows us, and it’s very promising.” If COVID cases numbers continue to downturn, once the island reaches a low-risk category, she will consider the lifting of the mandate, even if only in “certain circumstances or situations,” she said

As of March 3, only three states – Hawaii, Oregon and Washington – require people to wear face coverings in public places, regardless of vaccination status. Puerto Rico has a similar policy.


In other COVID-19 news, DPHSS announced new COVID metrics for evaluating the effect the virus has on the island. The new metrics factor in the healthcare system and hospital admissions of severely ill patients and the system classifies a low-risk category as less than 200 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.

“We continue to decline and now we’re seeing less than 250 new cases a day,” the governor said. As of March 3, there were 33 COVID admissions between the three hospitals, with three patients in an ICU and one on a ventilator.


THAAD heads out for Rota data gathering

Rota International Airport will see a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense remote launcher and personnel on deployment from Guam during March, according to a joint release from Joint Region Marianas and the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. The deployment will allow for gathering of “valuable data” and provide information for future deployments, the release said. mbj