Lanai officials expecting more COVID-19 cases


LANAI CITY, Hawaii (KHON2) — The community of Lanai held a virtual meeting on Friday evening to share ways to curve the spread of the coronavirus.

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There were no known cases on the island at the start of the week. By Friday, cases grew to 65 and county officials are expecting more cases through mass testing.

More than 450 people tuned-in to the meeting at one point. A persistent question from residents was, how exactly did the virus spread so quickly?

The health department said it identified that a couple of large social gatherings were likely to have contributed to the outbreak, along with cases being passed between household members.

Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang compared it to a tinderbox that simply needed a spark to ignite.

“To bring the fire story home, how would you like the edge of the fire to burn underground? Not be seen,” Pang said. “But still spread … that is the asymptomatics.”

The increase of cases over the week prompted schools to go online.

Hawaii Senator Kalani English said that the community should already act as if a lockdown is in place.

“Fifteen students were reported positive, the DOE just came out with their statement on that,” Kalani said. “And as the testing goes on, I’m sure we will find more people. So even though the official shutdown will come on Tuesday, we’re really asking all of you to stay home now.”

An actual stay-at-home order request is now pending Governor David Ige’s approval.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said that if approved, the order will go into effect Tuesday.

“I will admit, I was on Lanai today,” Victorino said on Friday. “There are more cases. We see them coming, and we’re working very diligently to make sure first of all tests are being done.”

As of Friday afternoon, 700 people on Lanai signed up for COVID-19 testing scheduled to take place Saturday at the Old Dole Administration Building in Lanai City from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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