WAILUKU, Hawaii (KHON2) — Maui County is close to surpassing the number of COVID-19 cases from last year in just the first two months of 2021. Maui Mayor Michael Victorino has said he will consider less restrictions once the community reaches single-digit COVID-19 cases or less.

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Victorino reduced dine-in capacity at restaurants to 30%, and the businesses are also required to close their doors by 10 p.m.

Caleb Hopkins is the owner of Mala Ocean Tavern. He said the 10 p.m. closing time puts a major dent on his sales.

Hopkins said, “It’s costing us thousands of dollars every week, thousands of dollars that we need so badly now in these times. We’re doing the exact same things at 10:01 if we were open, that we’re doing at 8 p.m.”

Monday’s COVID-19 case count on Maui was 28, Oahu had 21 cases, while Big Island had two and Kauai had one case.

Cases in the twenties may not seem like a lot, but for a county with a population under 200,000, this puts Maui at a 2.7% test positivity rate. It is the highest in the state.

The Maui Health System CEO Michael Rembis said the number of cases in the county are not being reflected within the hospital. He said there is a decline in COVID patients.

Rembis said, “Three to four weeks ago, we had 20 patients a day in the hospital. Today, we have seven. That’s a significant decrease.”  

Contact tracers with the state’s department of health said many of the new cases were transmitted within households. They are working to contain the spread within those family members.

The health department also noted one cluster at Maui Community Correctional Center. The Department of Public Safety said there are 24 active COVID cases at MCCC. They continue to do health checks twice a day for staff and inmates.

Mayor Victorino was not inclined to remove inmate cases from the county’s count in order to ease restrictions.

Victorino said, “A case, is a case, is a case.” 

Cases on Maui may be isolated to certain locations but the consequences extend to the community.

Hopkins said, “Now, we’re checking the COVID count every single day and talking about it. It’s just this constant stress in your life.”