Tuesday, April 14, 2020

From Agent Orange to Coronavirus: How Guam's residents have been put at risk time and again by US military

Residents of Guam are not new to constant US military presence on the strategic Pacific island. However, with the novel coronavirus outbreak, they are fearing for their lives as hundreds of sailors from a coronavirus-stricken Navy aircraft carrier flood into the island’s hotels to quarantine.
An outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt began in late March infecting more than 580 sailors. Amid this, the ship’s commander Capt. Brett E Crozier was fired for distributing a letter urging faster action to protect his sailors, leaving the Navy into a leadership crisis.
The carrier has been docked in the US territory for over a week as the 4,865-person crew is tested for the virus and moved ashore. However, what has made locals nervous is that many sailors, who have tested negative, are isolating in the island’s hotels and they do not exactly know where they are being put.
“Being negative today doesn’t mean that they won’t be in a week or so. The decision to house them in the middle of our community is playing a game of chance with the health of our people,” a group of locals, who have urged Guam Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero to reconsider allowing the sailors to stay in hotels, said in a statement.
“Our people are getting slapped in the face,” said Hope Cristobal, one of the residents of Guam, who thinks officials are making promises about safety but are unable to keep up. Cristobal lives less than a quarter-mile from hotels in Tumon, a district located in the municipality of Tamuning which is the center of Guam's tourist industry. “We don’t know exactly where they’re being housed,” she added.
According to reports, Mary Rhodes, president of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, declined to disclose the names of the hotels where the Navy personnel have been housed.

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