Second Positive COVID-19 Case on Moloka‘i

April 5, 2020, 7:13 AM HST · Updated April 5, 8:17 AM
Wendy Osher · 29 Comments
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The Island of Molokaʻi in the County of Maui now has a second COVID-19 positive case.

The individual is an employee of Friendly Market Center and is in self-isolation, according to new information released by Maui Mayor Michael Victorino.

“I have been told that all employees at Friendly Market Center have immediately self-quarantined and that the store will be closed until April 20,” said Mayor Victorino.

“Unfortunately, this situation was a strong possibility after the first individual,” who also is also a store employee, “tested positive on Molokaʻi.”

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Mayor Victorino said he has been working in coordination with State House Representative Lynn DeCoite and Senator Kalani English to help sanitize local business buildings and surrounding areas.

“I want the residents of Molokaʻi to know that we will make sure that services and goods will continue to arrive to the island. My primary focus is to maintain essential supplies for Molokaʻi and ensure their health and safety,” said Mayor Victorino.

“I also want to remind our Molokaʻi community to stay home as much as possible and follow social distancing rules. If you need to leave the house for essential things, please wear a mask and wash your hands thoroughly. Everyone needs to do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Officials learned of Molokaʻi’s first positive case on Thursday.  The adult male resident had traveled to Las Vegas and did not self isolate when he returned, according to information provided on Friday night. He’s now being treated at a hospital on Oʻahu.

After the first case was confirmed earlier this week, Mayor Victorino, Senator English, and Representative DeCoite worked with the market’s owners to facilitate testing for all employees.  The second positive test came out of that round of testing. As a result, Friendly Market Center will remain closed until April 20 and employees are going into self-isolation.

Sen. English said, “By facilitating immediate testing on the island and getting the results processed on O‘ahu the next day, we were able to identify a second positive case at the store and take steps to reduce further spread. The Friendly Market will close for 14 days. We are working to ensure the other stores in Kaunakakai have sufficient food and resources for island residents.”

District 13 Rep. Lynn DeCoite (Haʻikū, Hāna, Kaupō, Kīpahulu, Nāhiku, Pāʻia, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Molokini) said, “Now, more than ever, it is important that we all comply with the County and State stay-at-home orders.”

“We know this is in the Moloka‘i community,” she said. “The way we kōkua one another is to STAY AT HOME! It is ALL of our responsibility to STOP THE SPREAD by staying home! I know we are all scared and want information. For now, STAY AT HOME. Only send one person to get groceries and supplies for your household.”

“Moloka‘i, we are strong, we are resilient and right now is our chance to show the rest of the state how we can come together by complying with all of the County and State recommendations to protect everyone in our community,” said Representative DeCoite.

Following the first confirmed case on the island, Rep Decoite said, “Low and behold, it created a panic.” During a Zoom meeting on Friday she explained that at that point, “most people began taking it seriously.” She continued saying, “We have to make sure we can suppress it before it gets out of control… and ensure it does not create a full outbreak.”

“On an island as small as Molokaʻi, we had to make sure we could do a full cleaning,” said Rep. Decoite, noting that sanitation services had to be flown in. “While funds are there, supplies are not,” she said.

As a precaution, the Department of Education suspend Grab-and-Go meal service at Molokaiʻi High School. The first confirmed case did not directly involve someone in the school community, “however, we have made this decision out of an abundance of caution,” DOE officials said.

The lack of quarantine in the initial case resulted in what Rep. Decoite called a “ripple effect across Molokaʻi. It’s one of the lessons learned for us,” she said, in the hopes the message hits home with other rural communities like Hāna that face similar vulnerabilities, and also reported its first case this week.

County officials say Molokaʻi is rated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the most vulnerable communities in Maui County, based on 2018 data, specifically for hospital and medical resources.

“This reminds us of how important it is to follow the travel quarantine order and self-distancing recommendations, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus to your friends and loved ones,” said Rep. DeCoite in an earlier release.

As of noon on Saturday, April 4, 2020, there are 351 cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawaiʻi with 32 new cases. Of the 38 cases in Maui County, 11 have been released from isolation and one has required hospitalization.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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