LANAI CITY, Hawaii (KHON2) — Governor Ige signed an emergency order approving Lanai’s “Stay at Home” order, which is set to go in effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27.
Lanai was the only island to be COVID-free since March, but that changed when four cases were reported on Oct. 21. As of Sunday, Oct. 26, the Department of Health counted a total of 78 cases on the Pineapple Isle.
The small island has a population of about 3,000 and has very limited health care facilities. Health officials predict patients who end up needing extra care will have to be flown to a facility on Maui or Oahu.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino shared that mass testing has taken place on Lanai since the first few cases popped up and about half of the island has already underwent COVID-19 testing.
In his announcement, Governor Ige said that most spikes on the island have been directly correlated with large private gatherings.
“The super spreader events seem to be private events that have been gathering in excess to what the public restrictions are and we’re seeing those events can maybe accelerate the number of cases,” said the Governor
Although the lockdown is not currently in effect, residents are already being urged to shelter-in-place.
Lanai residents say they’re a tight-knit community, everyone knows one another, lives nearby, and works together. Many say spread is easy because most residents live in multi-generational homes.
“For me, I have a family of four and we have a one-bedroom home, it’s really tight, and there’s a lot of situations like that we’re very closely together,” explained Lanai resident Shayne Kunimitsu.
He explained there are only two grocery stores on the island.
“I’m pretty sure, I can say, safely say for everybody that we all have the same thought in mind going to the store, because everybody goes there. Will it be safe enough?” Kunimitsu said.
Doctors on Lanai said of the residents who tested positive, the majority have been asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. Others didn’t know they even had COVID until they were tested.
Although no new cases were announced on Monday, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said test results from surge testing was looking good.
“I have preliminary reports that the surge testing we did on Saturday are extremely good, and we’ll be getting those numbers tomorrow, and that may change a lot of what’s happening on Lanai,” he explained in a press conference on Monday.
Non-essential businesses on Lanai will be required to shut down on Tuesday, just as many people were starting to get back to work.
“It’s just tough, you know. It’s real tough,” Kunimitsu said.
Many Lanai residents rely on hunting and fishing for food. Today, Mayor Victorino said he hopes residents do not do anything non-essential.
“I would prefer they not do anything that is non-essential. I really can’t stop somebody from fishing because maybe for sustenance purposes. Fishing is okay, I prefer people not go hunting,” Victorino said.
“Even when you fish you need more than one person to prevent something from happening, but I’ll leave it to [Lanai resident’s] good judgement, and wearing a mask may be a part of that also.”
Other residents are okay with the stay-at-home order and say they had a feeling the virus would come onto the island once the mandatory quarantine was dropped for Maui County travel.
“I’m all for it yeah, because that’s what, that’s what kept the corona from coming to Lanai,” explained Lanai native Helen Tabura.
“Not requiring a test, and not being quarantined, that’s when I knew already it’s going to happen, it’s going to hit Lanai so hard,” she said.
Tabura said she rarely leaves her house and has her family deliver food and necessities, or she will order supplies online.
Although some Lanai residents opted out from taking a test, Kunimitsu said knocking out the virus is up to everyone on the island.
“It takes a whole community effort to get rid of this disease, you know, because all it takes is one, one break and then another person catches it, then it’s going to multiply and just keep growing. And then it’s going to be a never-ending battle,” he said.
“We all have to work together,” Kunimitsu added.
Lanai’s stay-at-home order will take effect on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 12:01 a.m, and will expire November 11.
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