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Kauai mayor asks residents to cooperate with contact tracers, avoid traveling and gathering

                                Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami at a press conference.
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Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami at a press conference.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami is asking Garden Island residents to help avoid a shutdown due to the coronavirus by avoiding unnecessary travel and large gatherings — and cooperating with contact tracers.

Due to high volume of COVID-19 cases the island is experiencing, the Kauai Health District Office is no longer capable of investigating and tracing every one right away, as it did last year, he said. Those who test positive should isolate at home immediately, and notify close contacts to quarantine and get tested.

When contact tracers from the Kauai Health District Office do call, however, Kawakami said residents should be respectful to those with a difficult and at times, thankless job.

“Recently a handful of people have been rude or verbally abusive to their staff,” he said. “When they call to inform they are a close contact of a case and must isolate to avoid infecting our community, most people are thankful for the information, but a small percentage of people respond by swearing, calling them names, and refusing to cooperate.”

”Remember folks, these are members of our community,” he continued, “and they are only trying to make sure that everybody is safe, especially people that are sick with COVID-19 or may be a close contact.”

Kawakami urged residents to cooperate with contact tracers.

“They’re not being niele; they’re not being nosy,” he said. “They don’t judge. They’re just trying to make sure you and your neighbors are safe. They’re working to save lives. They deserve our respect.”

On Tuesday, the Kauai Health District Office reported the island’s seventh fatality from COVID-19, along with 32 new coronavirus cases. The deceased was a female Kauai resident in her 90s who had been hospitalized.

Kauai recorded 37 new confirmed and probable infections today, state health officials said.

There have been more active cases in the past week on Kauai than since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the health district office. Nearly 20% of total cases for the isle over the entire pandemic occurred within the past week, while two-thirds of total deaths occurred within the last month.

Kawakami urged residents to postpone weddings, baby luaus and birthday parties and to only travel if necessary.

“I continue to urge our community to come together and shift our behavior,” Kawakami said. “We must avoid travel unless necessary, avoid gathering in large groups, and if you have to gather, gather outside. Wear your masks, stay home if you’re sick and get tested, and get vaccinated. There is no guarantee that these actions will be enough, but they are our best hope to avoid a shutdown.”

More information on testing and vaccines is available at kauai.gov/covid-19.

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