Hundreds show up for mass testing on Lanai, residents continue to battle spread of virus


LANAI CITY, Hawaii (KHON2) — Hundreds of Lanai residents showed up to get tested on Saturday as the island continues to battle a surge of coronavirus cases.

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Maui Health officials confirmed that there are now 66 positive cases on Lanai. That number is expected to grow.

Lanai residents said that the initial shock is associated with the drastic spike of COVID-19 cases is subsiding. Lanai Cat Sanctuary Executive Director Keoni Vaughn said that residents are cautiously optimistic.

“We’re trying to remain positive, but also taking this very seriously,” he said.

Vaughn, along with hundreds of other Lanai residents, showed up for mass testing on Saturday.

Lanai Community Health Center Associate Medical Director Jared Medeiros said that the more testing they do will give them a better idea of how widespread the virus is on the island.

“There’s a big portion of the patients that are asymptomatic, which is another key part to note. That’s why we really need to get everybody tested on the island. Because we just don’t know,” said Medeiros. “We’re getting an influx of people just walking in wanting to get tested. And, of course, we’re not turning anybody away that wants to get tested.”

Since 15 students at Lanai High and Elementary tested positive, Medeiros said more kids are being tested.

“The school is now calling parents of kids that have been in the same classroom and they’ve been exposed. So that’s just starting to matriculate out in the community. There’s a lot of uneasiness with families.”

Lanai Union Church Pastor Steve Jerbi said that there are a number of positive cases in his congregation.

“A lot of the families are working class families, and they’re being impacted pretty significantly. I was talking to one gentleman yesterday, and you know, he said his COVID is, ‘No joke,'” Jerbi said.

Medeiros said most of the COVID-positive patients he’s seen are asymptomatic. But he added that the most common symptoms reported by patients are fatigue and body aches.

He has several high-risk patients with chronic illnesses that he wanted to fly off-island as a preemptive measure, but he said that request was denied.

“We were told that would be an option, and then they told me that, ‘No, we cannot take patients that are COVID-positive, who are not critically needing to get off the island.’ They don’t, they won’t transfer a patient, just in case,” Medeiros explained.

If Governor David Ige approves the mayor’s request, Lanai’s stay-at-home order will take effect on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 12:01 a.m.

“There’s kind of been a bit of a rush to the stores. A lot of people have been worried and kind of panic buying. So, that’s been going on here. Yesterday, it was like an hour wait to get into one of the stores,” Medeiros said.

Although the lockdown is not currently in effect, residents are already urged to shelter-in-place. Residents or visitors who wish to leave should make travel arrangements immediately.

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