LANAI CITY, Hawaii (KHON2) — Positive COVID-19 cases on Lanai jumped to a total of 16 in just two days. Residents are shaken by the alarming spike in their rural community.
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“As of right now we’re up to 16 cases. So, just in case you’re wondering, I know the mayor reported four cases, that was reported yesterday and showed up in today’s count. So just be aware that 16 cases are results that we got in just today,” explained Maui District Health Office Nursing Supervisor Heidi Taogoshi.
That Department of Health said all are self-isolating and DOH is contact tracing.
Lanai is home to roughly 3,000 residents. The tight-knit community managed to go through seven months of the pandemic without any cases of COVID-19 on island.
The only other case linked to Lanai was a resident who tested positive while on Maui in April.
Local Gentry store owner and Lanai resident Jenna Majkus said that she’s scared.
“We are a small community, but no place is immune to COVID.”
Taogoshi said no one is hospitalized and all businesses and schools involved have been notified. According to the DOH, at least one case has a history of recent travel.
The surge in cases comes less than a week after the pre-travel test program started and the mandatory quarantine was lifted for travel within Maui county.
Lanai resident Gabe Johnson said it’s unsettling.
“It’s really a scary thing, and I understand people are worried about that. You know, we’re so excited to reopen and go back to work, and then boom! It happens within the first week for us.”
Wearing masks, hand washing and social distancing will help prevent the spread but some said more needs to be done.
Lanai County Council Member Riki Hokama said officials are trying to mitigate the situation.
“How does our community respond to it? And that’s part of the challenges that we’re having. What level of service through the county that I represent, provides for Lanai, besides the state department, from the health department as well as funding from the federal government,” Hokama said.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said additional disinfecting and sanitation services are being sent to Lanai to clean public areas and businesses that need assistance.
Residents also want more medical infrastructure on island.
“You just basically get taken off the island when it gets serious. And that is a concern. You know, I really worry about that. And that’s the problem with having very little health care on the island,” Johnson said.
“We have limited equipment and facilities. But also key is the level of medical personnel that are going to be required to provide on-island service. So those are the concerns right now. And what protocol should we start putting in place to transport our residents to the appropriate facilities,” Hokama said.
Drive-thru testing will be held on Saturday, Oct. 24 at the Old Dole Administration Building in Lanai City from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for individuals ages 15 years and older, by appointment only. Call the Straub Medical Center – Lanai Clinic to schedule an appointment at 808-565-6423 or the Lanai Community Health Center at 808-565-6919. Testing is also available Monday to Saturday at the clinic and health center.
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