3 New COVID Cases for Molokai Last Week
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
The new year brought new cases to the island, with an influx of three last week, bringing Molokai up to a total of 25 COVID-19 cases, as of Sunday, since the pandemic began.
One new case was reported by the Dept. of Health last Wednesday, Jan. 6, with two more joining the tally Friday.
Statewide, Thursday, Jan. 7 saw the highest number of cases in a single day since August, with 322 new cases across the state. In Maui County, numbers were also concerning to officials, with 56 new cases reported in the county last Thursday. Because the vast majority of cases are in households throughout all regions of Maui island, officials in the Maui District Health Office believe the spike stemmed from holiday gatherings.
“Today’s number is certainly concerning, but not unexpected,” said Mayor Michael Victorino on Jan. 7. “Our medical advisers anticipated a dramatic surge in cases after the holidays. We are watching the numbers very carefully, but we do hope to see a downward trend toward later this month. In the meantime, we are enforcing existing public health rules and working with Governor Ige to institute some new restrictions.”
Mayor Victorino approved additional funding for Maui Police Department officers to continue and increase enforcement of public health guidelines including mask-wearing and maintaining limits on social gatherings county-wide.
Across the state, COVID-19 vaccine distribution continues, with more than 35,000 administered so far, as of Jan. 8.
Many independent, licensed healthcare workers on Molokai received their first doses last week. Independent healthcare organizations that have not yet arranged for vaccinations are asked to complete a survey to facilitate the logistical planning for the vaccination of their high-risk workers.
Details on how people age 75 and older can register for vaccinations can be expected as soon as this week, according to the Dept. of Health. The Department released an executive summary of its updated COVID-19 vaccination plan that provides a roadmap of how the vaccine will eventually be made available to all Hawaii residents by the end of this summer.
“Our plan prioritizes the vaccine for those who come into direct contact with the virus and those who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 infections, and disability or death,” said Dr. Libby Char, director of HI DOH. “The safe and orderly rollout ensures we operate efficiently to minimize waste of the dosages and to enhance patient safety.”
The updated plan breaks down the rollout of the vaccine into two major phases, according to DOH officials. The first phase includes three priority groups: Phase 1a covers healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents, estimated to be six percent of Hawaii’s total population; Phase 1b includes frontline essential workers and adults 75 years of age and older, which is about 20 percent of state’s population; and Phase 1c is adults age 65 to 74 years, persons 16 to 64 years with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not included in Phase 1b, accounting for 47 percent of the state’s population.
Phase 2 will cover the rest of the population, which includes all persons 16 years and older who were not in other categories. Phase 2 is projected to begin in early summer 2021. Based on the estimated number of people in each of these groups, 73 percent of Hawaii’s population will receive the vaccination by the completion of all of the categories in Phase 1. Phase 2 will cover the remaining 27 percent, according to the DOH.