Lanai headed for a shutdown as cases soar to 37


LANAI CITY, Hawaii (KHON2) — Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said that they could shut Lanai down as early as Monday as cases on the Pineapple Island continue to soar.

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The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed 37 cases and one probable case on Lanai. But based on preliminary tests, Mayor Victorino said that the number could grow.

“We could be up to 44 by tomorrow,” Mayor Victorino said.

That’s out of more than 300 tests administered in the last 72 hours.

Mayor Victorino said if the DOH confirms 44 cases, the positivity rate will exceed 10 percent, which would force closures.

“If it continues like this, and those numbers that I shared with you are factual and are confirmed, we will look at maybe 12:01 Monday a.m. shutting down Lanai for outside traffic.”

For now, Senator Kalani English said that residents are being told to stay home.

“Things are moving very quickly on Lanai. It’s definitely community spread, and so we are asking people to shelter in place right now–stay home, stop movement and be still for a little bit and that should help us stop the movement of the virus,” English said.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Department of Education reverted students at Lanai High and Elementary School back to full distance learning.

This is just a week after trans-Pacific pre-travel testing began and the mandatory quarantine for travel within Maui County was lifted.

“We know one case, it was travel related. The rest are what’s called community transmission,” English explained.

DOH officials visited Lanai on Thursday and are investigating what caused the surge. They said that two of the positive cases attended a social gathering.

Mayor Victorino said Lanai residents haven’t been as “vigilant” as they should be about wearing masks and social distancing.

Community members are urged to continue to wear protective face masks, social distance and practice good hygiene.

The state will be distributing 2,500 masks to Lanai residents and community testing has been scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Old Dole Administration Building.

Hawaii Governor David Ige is encouraging everyone who believes they’ve been exposed or may know some of the individuals who tested positive to get tested.

Lanai resident Helen Tabura is shocked by how quickly the virus spread on the island.

“It’s just kind of spooky. I haven’t left the island since February, and I just pray every day that I don’t get sick,” she said.

Mayor Victorino will fly to Lanai on Friday, Oct. 23. Sanitation crews will also arrive on Friday to disinfect public buildings and other high-touch public areas on the island.

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