Stay at Home Orders Extended Through May
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
Molokai COVID-19 cases remained at two as statewide cases reached 606, with 14 deaths, as of Sunday. Sen. Kalani English announced last week Tuesday that all tests from April 7 and April 16 were negative.
Last Saturday, Gov. David Ige announced statewide stay at home orders and 14-day travel quarantine rules will be in place through May 31.
“I know this has been difficult for everyone,” said Ige. “Businesses need to reopen. People want to end this self-imposed isolation. And we all want our lives to return to normal.”
But he stressed the need for continued social distancing, wearing face masks when in public and vigilance to maintain Hawaii’s relatively low number of cases compared to many other states.
“We are flattening the curve,” Ige continued. “However, my greatest fear is that if we move to reopen too quickly, we will see a sudden surge in new cases that would result in over-running our healthcare system and more deaths.”
He did relax orders for outdoor exercise, however. Allowed activities including swimming, surfing and walking pets. In addition, running, jogging or walking on the beach will be permitted, as long as social distancing requirements are observed. The eviction moratorium is also extended until the end of May.
He said re-opening will be taken in phases.
“This is only the beginning of a long, cautious process,” said Ige. “We will be in constant discussions with the counties, the legislature and community leadership as we develop our plans.” Review of industry best practices to ensure that businesses can accommodate social distancing requirements will be key, he said. He also emphasized collaboration with the counties, which need flexibility to implement measures with consideration to each island’s communities.
To begin relaxing restrictions, state Dept. of Health and Hawaii Emergency Management Agency officials said there must be a trend of “at least two weeks of a low number of new cases, a robust testing and surveillance system, a reliable contact tracing system, and a ready supply of medical supplies and hospital capacity.”
Last week, Molokai received more than 10,000 masks to be distributed by various agencies to residents in need through a collaboration with Hawaiian Airlines and Every1ne Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines flew a chartered flight bringing 1.6 million face masks to Hawaii from China. The plane underwent special modifications to carry the large shipment.
Food shipments and distribution continued on Molokai to help feed the community.
Last Saturday night, The Molokai Homestead Farmers Alliance and partner organizations held a free chili dinner distribution at Lanikeha Community Center. The drive-thru event also gave out one dozen eggs per household.
“We’re just coming out to make sure people are fed,” said Rep. Lynn DeCoite in a live video at the event.
“Last week and this week we’ve been able to serve over 1,000 families with fresh produce… [including] kupuna and needy families,” said Rob Stephenson of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce, which is one of the organizations of the Support Molokai Initiative partnership group.
The Maui News reported that the U.S. Coast Guard transported coolers to facilitate food shipment and sharing last week, while 23 pallets of food was shipped to Molokai by barge from the Maui Food Bank.