Gov. David Ige on Monday morning approved a stay-at-home order for the island of Lanai, effective today, in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the tight-knit, but vulnerable community.
The number of cases on the Pineapple Island, which has a population of about 3,000, quickly ballooned from four known cases last Tuesday to 65 on Friday. On Monday, the state Health Department said the active cluster currently included 77 confirmed cases, and three probable cases, adding up to 80.
Large social gatherings likely contributed to this outbreak, according to the department, and household transmission also has been a factor. The department is currently working with the Lanai health care community to enhance outreach, testing, and contact tracing.
“Please use your masks, physical distancing, stay at home, don’t do anything that doesn’t necessarily need to be done,” emphasized Maui Mayor Mike Victorino during a news conference Monday afternoon. “Essential service and essential business is what we’re asking everybody to do on Lanai for the next two weeks. We ask you to stay at home the next two weeks to make sure we get this pandemic under control on the island of Lanai.”
Victorino on Friday had requested the mandatory stay-at-home order for Lanai residents and visitors, saying that the rapidly rising COVID-19 case count warranted it to limit the spread.
Under the order, effective through Nov. 11, travel to and from Lanai is limited to essential work and medical purposes. All other travelers are required to quarantine for 14 days.
On Lanai, health officials are concerned about extremely limited resources. Lanai Community Hospital has just four patient beds, three emergency room beds, and 10 long-term care beds.
Hospitals on other isles, including Maui Memorial and Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu, are prepared to take Lanai’s patients.
Victorino said on Monday, so far, that no COVID-19 patents on Lanai have required hospitalization.
Ige and Lt. Gov. Josh Green, however, anticipate the number of cases on Lanai to continue growing.
“Once again the super spreader events seem to be private events that have been gathering in excess of what the public restrictions are,” said Ige during the House Select Committee on COVID-19 meeting Monday morning, “and we’re seeing that those events can really accelerate the number of cases.”
Green said during his Spotlight Hawaii conversation Monday morning that he assumes the number of positive cases on Lanai is going to rise “pretty significantly,” prompting discussions about getting extra health care services to the island.
Approximately 1,000 were tested at a drive-thru event on Saturday, and it would be valuable to hold another one this weekend because “that island is so small, and everyone lives so closely.”
On Monday, the department reported 38 new coronavirus infections statewide, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 14,709 cases.
The new cases tallied on Monday included 26 on Oahu, nine on Hawaii island, one on Kauai, and two Hawaii residents diagnosed out of state. No new cases were recorded for Maui County, including on Lanai.
Kauai County said the one case on the Garden Isle is a female resident who works for the state Department of Education who is currently isolating at home.
The additional case brings Kauai’s current active cases to two, with eight individuals in quarantine as close contacts. To date, Kauai’s cumulative number of cases is at 62, with one additional, probable case.
On Oahu, city officials reported Monday that another TheBus driver had tested positive for COVID-19, and last worked Oct. 18. It is the 12th coronavirus case for Oahu Transit Services, which operates TheBus and TheHandi-Van.
On Hawaii island, total cases have climbed to 1,230 as of Monday, ranking it the second highest, behind Oahu.
The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said Monday that high numbers are concentrated in housing areas in North Kona and South Hilo districts. The agency also said Hawaii island’s COVID-19 death toll is now at 40, although state health officials have yet to verify coronavirus as a factor in 12 of those deaths.
The Health Department’s daily case counts are often lower on Monday compared with the rest of the week due to fewer testing results being tallied over the weekend.
As of Monday, 64 COVID- 19 patients were hospitalized, with 15 occupying intensive-care unit beds and 10 on ventilators.
On Monday, Green said in his daily flipboard update that on day 12 of the pre-travel testing program, some 88,170 travelers have been screened, 75,777 were exempted and 9,587 went into 14-day quarantine.
Surveillance testing of 9,000 inbound travelers have resulted in only five confirmed positives, so far, he said.
Hawaii’s focus should be on a statewide face mask mandate, he said, to reduce county by county confusion and because mask wearing is key to reducing COVID-19 spread.
Ige also welcomed more than 170 medical employees contracted by the state from Ohio-based ProLink Services to bolster staffing at Hawaii’s hospitals and long-term health care facilities due to the pandemic.
No new deaths were reported on Monday for the second straight day.
The Health Department’s official state death toll remains 212, which includes 165 fatalities on Oahu, 28 on Hawaii island, 18 on Maui, and one Kauai resident who died on the mainland.