Updated: Apr 23, 2020
By Johnnie Rosario
(Yigo, Guam) A 60-year-old Chamorro woman died at 9:30 a.m. Monday, April 13, at Guam Memorial Hospital of "Suspected COVID-19 Infection," according to the Physicians Worksheet for Death Certificate document on her death.
Similar to the other five COVID-19-related deaths, the deceased had acute respiratory failure due to or as a consequence of pneumonia or sepsis, and had co-morbidities, including cancer and diabetes.
Guam has not reported the deaths of any "suspected COVID-19" infected patients, however it was March 30, when Saipan reported its first suspected COVID-19 death. Testing was conducted, and within the week it was confirmed the man who died did have the Coronavirus. The count was reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prior to testing confirmation, with a notation pending laboratory confirmation.
Kandit three weeks ago asked the Guam Governor's Office how it would deal with patients who are suspected of having the Coronavirus, but die prior to lab confirmation of infection. We asked this question after Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero issued a policy for cremating or burying bodies within 24 hours of death. "How will the government report COVID-19 fatalities if bodies of suspected cases are burned or buried before any test is done?"
Neither the Governor's Office nor the Joint Information Center ever answered the question.
According to this death document, no autopsy was performed on the woman.
Kandit on Thursday evening brought the matter of the April 13 GMH death to the attention of Linda DeNorcey, director of public health, without letting her know we received a screen shot of the death certificate worksheet from a confidential source at GMH.
Grace Bordallo with DPHSS responded for her Friday morning, telling Kandit, "The only COVID-19 related death on April 13, 2020 that we are aware of is what was publicly reported. A sailor on the USS Theodore Roosevelt died from COVID-19 in the late hours of April 13, 2020."
However, the Sailor from the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Ms. Bordallo references in her response, who died on April 13, died at Naval Hospital Guam, not GMH. Also, the Sailor was a 41-year-old male. The GMH death, according to the document, was a 60-year-old female.
We followed up our inquiry to Ms. Bordallo with the following:
"Hi Grace. Thank you for responding. I should be more clear. I have a PHYSICIANS WORKSHEET FOR DEATH CERTIFICATES signed by a Joseph M. S. (last name illegible), dated April 13, 2020, indicating that a female, 60, died at GMH at 0930 that day of "Suspected COVID-19 Infection" written in box 1(c) DUE TO OR AS CONSEQUENCE OF. We do not have the name of the patient, nor are we asking for it. What we do want to know is why this person's death hasn't been reported in the death count."
Neither Ms. Bordallo nor Ms. DeNorcey have responded.
Kandit this evening presented the document to Bertha Taijeron with the Joint Information Center, with the following note and question:
"Here's the proof of the April 13 death. We're writing this story now. May we please have comment on why the government of Guam is hiding this information from the public, and how many other deaths from confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection have not been disclosed to the public."
Ms. Taijeron responded, "I will provide you with a response after I consult with our Incident Commander," Saturday morning during a scheduled debriefing.
"I will inquire in the morning with the IC as I am unsure why it wasn't recorded," Ms. Taijeron said.
In other news, the Joint Information Center just released news of an additional COVID-19 infection, bringing the total count to 136.