MauiNow.com April 6, 2020, 7:57 AM HST · Updated April 6, 7:57 AM
By Wendy Osher
The remote community of Hāna in East Maui will move forward with sanitation of businesses and public places on Tuesday and then transition to a new shopping process once stores reopen, according to an update on Sunday evening provided by Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English (Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i and Kaho‘olawe).
“So you’ll see people in hazmat suits around Hana tomorrow, and that’s what they’re doing. They’ll be going around, so I don’t want people to be scared or alarmed. It’s really to protect everyone,” said Sen. English. “And then after they do this, the stores will be changing how they do business. So you can’t go inside anymore. You’d have to call your orders in. And the stores are working that out now. Neil (Hasegawa) has been working on a system and so has Hāna Store.”
The information was shared in an evening collaborative meeting on the social app Zoom, that drew participation from Maui Mayor Michael Victorino, District 13 Representative Lynn DeCoite (Haʻikū, Hāna, Kaupō, Kīpahulu, Nāhiku, Pāʻia, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Molokini) and Councilmember Yuki Lei Sugimura.
The process takes lessons learned (both good and bad) from Molokaʻi, which reported its first COVID-19 case on Thursday, April 2, 2020; and a second case two days later on Saturday evening, April 4.
Both patients from Molokaʻi are employees of Friendly Market Center. The second positive came after a round of testing conducted for all employees. As a result, the store will remain closed until April 20 and employees are going into self-isolation.
Hāna’s first case came on Friday, April 3, right in between the Molokaʻi reports. Combined, the three cases have prompted a driven response from area leaders to do what they can now to prevent an outbreak or further spread into Maui’s rural communities.
The cases are among 43 reported so far in Maui County, but represent a unique perspective given the fact that they are in isolated communities that face vulnerabilitiesunlike other locations in the state. 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.
“Since first contact with the outside world, the people of Hawai’i experienced a number of epidemics generally brought in by vessels. The 1804 cholera epidemic and 1848 influenza, whooping cough, measles and dysentery epidemic were the two that took their toll on the population,” said Sen. English in a newsletter to constituents.
“Today, we are faced with a pandemic that we are trying to understand and have no natural immunity with which to combat the virus. As learned from the past, one of the most effective protections is isolation. So, stay at home and go out only if absolutely necessary,” he said.
Sanitation Begins in Hāna on Tuesday:
H20 Process Systems out of Honolulu, the same sanitation crew that cleaned Kauanakakai Town on Molokaʻi, will be flown out to Hāna on Monday afternoon. By Tuesday, workers in hazmat suits will be working throughout the East Maui community to sanitize area businesses, the Hasegawa General Store, Hāna Ranch Store, the gas station, post office, health center, police station, and other areas areas frequented by the general public.
Rep. DeCoite said that after the sanitation effort on Molokaʻi, it appeared as though the community was “taking the situation seriously with this second case… There are very few people strangling on our roads… Hopefully people have the message,” she said.
“It’s really unbelievable what they did,” said Rep. DeCoite of the sanitation work. “They put the community at ease.”
Rep. DeCoite explained that the liquid mixture used will be applied with an electrostatic spray from workers using five-gallon backpacks. Company representatives say the product used is a pure tab with the active ingredient in dilute form being Free Chlorine.
“It gasifies, stays in the solution and tears the outer wall of the virus, tearing it apart and rendering it inactive,” said company executives during a video conference meeting on Sunday night. The mixture contains 49% hyperclhorite, the same ingredient used in swimming pools. The other 51% is additives to ensure uniformity of the ratio fo the pills to water mixed.
Company representatives with H20 Process Systems say they want to support the community and intend to train Maui laborers who may have been laid off or furloughed from other work, to assist with sanitation efforts in other parts of the island when needed.
SINGLE SHOPPER MANDATE EXPECTED:
Shopping Transition In the Works:
When services resume, shopping in Hāna Town will shift to a new process.
Mayor Victorino said plans are to transition to call-in orders with pick-up arrangements. “We will not have people going leisurely to the store… We need to protect those working… The kupuna are very vulnerable,” he said.
“I humbly ask everybody to let family and friends know–the next two weeks are crucial,” said Mayor Victorino.
As for Central Maui, the Mayor said he will be looking at instituting a Maui single shopper mandate in which only one member of a family will be allowed to go shopping at a time.
“Also, I will be instituting here in central Maui –which will be all the county of Maui–probaby in the next day or two, a single shopper mandate,” said Mayor Victorino. “I’m looking at making it one member of each family allowed to go to any store to do necessary shopping, because I’ve seen families–three, four, five people–walking around the store like it was no problem.”
5,000 Masks to be Distributed across Maui on Wednesday and Thursday:
Mayor Victorino also highlighted other efforts happening across Maui. The County plans to distribute an estimated 5,000 disposable masks (half on Wednesday and the other half on Thursday).
This will help the public comply with CDC recommendations which urge the use of face protection when in public areas and settings where social distancing applies.
The mayor plans to set aside couple hundred for Hāna residents.
This does not include N95 masks–as those are being reserved for first responders and individuals on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lānaʻi Facing Issues Over Commercial Boats
Another remote community of Maui County, the island of Lānaʻi is also facing issues unique to the island and its rural nature.
Lawmakers shared information about an effort to prevent small commercial vessels from using the island’s boat harbor. There are reports of boats using the facility after never utilizing the harbor in the past.
Rep. DeCoite also shared information about efforts to stop a project on the Lānaʻi Airport runway amid concerns by government leaders over potential for unintended exposure.
A Brave New World:
Mayor Michael Victorino said that as Maui heads into its peak he will be watching and taking advice. “I don’t want to be like Hong Kong,” he said, “where they let loose and have a big spike again.”
“We have programs we will put in place; but want to make sure that whatever we do, we come out safer and do not have to go back in again,” said Mayor Victorino.
Sen. English called it “A Brave New World,” that we entering. “The one we left is behind us. We have to rebuild to one that we want for us and our children. All have to work together, share resources, share aloha–This is the heavy and hard reset button. It has been hit. Our economy will never be the same. Our life will never be the same and the way we interact will never be the same.”
He continued saying that some will “mourn the world we just left,” but provided some home saying, “Lets build one that we will be proud of; and one we all want to be in. We can get through this.”