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Mayor: Maui in good position as life returns to normal

More reopenings expected to be announced this week

Hawaii National Guard Sgt. Adrien Delos Santos talks to a motorcyclist stopped at a roadblock Saturday on Piilani Highway in Ulupalakua. Delos Santos and Spc. Mitchell Kamei (right) of the National Guard’s Task Force Maui Bravo Company were staffing the roadblock, set up in mid-April to limit travel to East Maui to residents, first responders and deliveries. Traffic was busy at the roadblock near Ulupalakua Ranch Store, which has reopened its grill and outdoor eating tables. The roadblocks in Ulupalakua and at Twin Falls were temporarily abandoned last week but went back up Friday, according to Mayor Michael Victorino. The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo

With daily life slowly returning to normal and the resumption of interisland travel without quarantine next week, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said Monday that the Valley Isle is prepared to handle any spikes in COVID-19 cases that may occur.

The island is in a good place, Victorino said. There are no active cases at Maui Memorial Medical Center and just one resident in isolation, and no new cases reported in Maui County on Monday. No ICU beds or ventilators were being utilized for COVID-19 cases.

“I want everyone to get ready for (reopening), but again, it’s up to us to pay attention, be alert, to prevent not only ourselves but our families from getting sick and spreading COVID-19,” Victorino said during a media update Monday. “Our numbers are extremely low, so if we do have a small spike, we’re able to handle it as a county.”

An additional list of reopenings will be announced this week, with the next restart dates for those activities set for Monday, following the approval of Gov. David Ige, the mayor said.

Last week, Ige approved Honolulu County Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposal for phasing in bars, theaters and organized outdoor sports with modifications beginning June 19. Maui County is putting the finishing touches on its reopening plans and will be announcing it later this week, Victorino said.

The mayor said he met with Parks and Recreation Department officials to discuss bringing back a “scaled-down version” of the Summer PALS Program, which may start in the next few weeks and run through July.

“As for organized sports, we are looking at the various leagues, and what parks have been opened up and how they can utilize that,” he said. “We will be announcing that very soon, but again we want to make sure we do it right.”

During a Maui Health update at the news conference, a hospital official said Maui Memorial began universal COVID-19 testing Monday for all patients admitted through the Emergency Department, as well as obstetrics patients. Starting Wednesday, universal testing will be expanded to include direct admissions.

“This will help to protect those who do not have the disease, and safely treat the individuals who do have the disease,” said Dr. Micheal Shea, ICU medical director and physician lead. “I really want to urge all of you, if you need medical attention, come to the hospital. It’s a safe place, and we’re ready to take care of you.”

Results are now available within three hours through rapid testing; patients will wait in the Emergency Department until the results are available.

The Emergency Operations Center at the hospital is actively working on a surge plan, Shea said. The EOC also is monitoring and sourcing PPE supplies.

And for those who have a positive antibody test, the Maui District Health Office is requiring a follow-up nasal swab test.

“The next few months will be crucial, whether we reopen entirely and stay open, bring back our visitors from outside of the state of Hawaii, as well as start to recover and restart the new economy we’ve been speaking of,” Victorino said. “It will take all of us, a lot of work, a lot of effort, a lot of focus to get this done.”

Meanwhile, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Monday the lessening of restrictions and the opening of parks. The announcement did not impact Maui County too much.

This includes:

• All beach areas within Makena State Park remain accessible. There are no lifeguard services. Restroom facilities and parking areas remain closed.

• Palaau State Park on Molokai has reopened for day use.

Waianapanapa State Park in East Maui remains closed pending the completion of the East Maui Traffic Management Plan. Pailoa beach access is allowed, subject to COVID-19 restrictions.

• Iao Valley State Monument and all Hana Highway state wayside parks remain closed.

Overnight lodging for Maui sites is anticipated to reopen July 1, the DLNR said.

“We are pleased that Hawaii has been so successful in flattening the COVID-19 curve, which allows us to reopen more park areas — particularly some overnight opportunities, which lets families further enjoy Hawaii’s outdoors,” said state Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell. “However, please be aware that restrictions on park hours, group size and certain activities remain in place, and we ask that all parks users adhere to these so we can keep slowly proceeding back to normal.”

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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