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Two New Molokai Cases

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Two new COVID-19 cases on Molokai last week brought the island’s total cases to 19 since the pandemic began, as of Sunday. A case was confirmed by the Dept. of Health on Monday, Nov. 30, with another on Saturday, Dec. 5. Contact tracing took place and there were no further details available.

On Dec. 4, the DOH announced that it is reducing the mandatory quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19 from 14 days to 10 days. The Department said this is to improve compliance without significantly increasing the risk of transmission in the community, based on updated recommendations from the CDC last week. The previous 14-day quarantine was based on the full incubation period of the virus. The maximum COVID-19 incubation period was imposed to reduce the risk of transmission. However, that timeframe caused hardship for those unable to return to work, as well as physical and mental health challenges, according to the DOH.

The new quarantine guidance does not modify any travel quarantine provided for in the governor’s proclamations related to the COVID-19 emergency, which remains 14 days.

Mayor Michael Victorino announced Friday that the AlohaSafe Alert is being rolled out in Maui County, making Maui County the first County in the State to utilize this resource to assist in curbing the spread of COVID-19. The app underwent pilot testing on Lanai and Hana before being approved to widespread use.

The application is free and can be downloaded now from the Apple Store or Google Play. After the app is downloaded, the smartphone uses Bluetooth technology to anonymously communicate with other phones that also have a GAEN application. Devices will automatically “ping” each other, measuring the strength of the Bluetooth signal and the duration of a contact, according to the county.

Location and identifiable information is not used or collected for privacy reasons. If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they will be contacted by a contact tracer who will ask if the person had downloaded the AlohaSafe app. If so, the person will receive a verification code that will enable an anonymous notification to others that they might have been exposed to the virus.

To trigger a notification alert, devices must have been within 6 feet of each other for at least 15 minutes in the past 14 days.

The County of Maui continues to offer free post-travel testing for returning residents and out of state visitors. On Molokai, this program is available at Molokai General Hospital. So far, the county reports there as been more than 4,900 individuals tested across the county and nearly 40 positive test results, as of Nov. 30. This is among those who participated in the pre-travel testing program that requires a negative COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel to Hawaii to avoid the 14-day quarantine upon arrival. According to Maui County, 12 people have participated in the voluntary post-travel testing on Molokai, and all were negative, as of Nov. 30.

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