Mayor mulling closure if cases spike
Interisland travel quarantine resumes today through Aug. 31
Anticipating a jump in new COVID-19 cases in Maui County, Mayor Michael Victorino said Monday that he will be mulling another potential closure.
Victorino said during a news conference that he is expecting a jump of 15 to 18 new cases “in the queue that have not been confirmed but are probably positive.” Adding that some of it is related to travel to Oahu, Victorino lauded the 14-day, partial interisland travel quarantine, which takes effect today through Aug. 31.
“I don’t want to close down Maui, I do not want to take the action Oahu has been taking,” he said. “However, if the cases do not come down in the next week, week and a half, in fact I will say probably next week Monday, if we have been averaging five to seven cases per day over that period of time, I will start considering reclosing or stepping back our reopening of Maui County.”
In response to a question from The Maui News, county Managing Director Sandy Baz said the average case count would have to be 15 to 20 cases per 100,000 people per day to revert to “Safer at Home” orders. Maui is currently in the “Act with Care” phase of reopening, where most nonessential businesses and activities were allowed to reopen in May and June.
County spokesman Chris Sugidono did not immediately respond when asked after the news conference over what period of time the county would have to observe this rate of cases.
Maui County reported one new case Monday, with the majority of the state’s 140 new cases on Oahu. In all, Maui County has had 186 cases since Feb. 28. Victorino said the county has jumped 35 percent, or 56 new cases, in the last month.
With some recent Maui cases tied to uncontrolled gatherings, Victorino recently scaled back outdoor and indoor group numbers to 10. He also banned large tents and pavilions to deter crowding.
Oahu, which has seen triple-digit daily surges in cases, last week ordered a partial closure of all state and county beach parks, along with tighter restrictions on high-risk businesses and activities.
Citing the COVID-19 spike, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Monday afternoon that all state forestland and trails will be closed, effective immediately.
“Previously most trails in Oahu state parks had been closed, and all trails in the state parks system have now been added to the closure list,” the news release said.
During the news conference, Victorino and Baz discussed the quarantine, which applies to all air and boat travel to each county except Honolulu. The quarantine includes travel between Maui to Hawaii island or Kauai, as well as travel to and from Molokai and Lanai.
Exemptions for work or medical reasons should be sought through the website of the county that the traveler is arriving in at least five days in advance of departure for Maui County, officials said. If approved, the quarantine will be limited to only allow travelers to conduct their essential business as well as travel to and from their essential functions.
For example, residents returning to Maui with an exemption may go to work, but they will not be allowed to attend social events, according to Baz.
All travelers will be required to visit the county’s website to fill out the County of Maui Mandatory Travel Declaration Form. Government personnel will also be available at airports and harbors to assist travelers with completing the forms.
Travelers may seek an essential work or medical exemption for their trip to Maui County by emailing their request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Travelers are encouraged to submit travel exemption requests as far in advance of their trips as possible.
Travelers seeking an exemption will have to include the following:
• Copy of a government identification for each traveler.
• For a medical exemption, a letter from a treating physician stating the appointment date(s) and if a companion is needed for travel.
• For essential work exemption, a letter from the employer describing the essential work that will be conducted in Maui County as well as the travel dates.
Requests that do not qualify for a travel exemption include trips to see family and/or friends; pretravel COVID-19 negative test; and travel identified as personal errands, such as renovation of a property, a county news release said.
Online travel forms can be filled out when arriving at the Molokai and Lanai airports and the Kahului Airport main terminal. However, paper forms are required at the Kahului Airport commuter terminal and private jet area, the Lahaina and Manele small boat harbors and the Kapalua Airport.
State health officials reported today three more COVID-19 deaths on Oahu, along with 140 new cases in the state, including one on Maui.
Of the new cases, the majority were on Oahu at 138; Maui and Kauai counties each had one new case.
Since tracking began Feb. 28, there have been 3,638 cases statewide, including 3,249 on Oahu, 186 in Maui County (including two on Molokai and none on Lanai), 131 on Hawaii island and 49 on Kauai. There have been 23 residents diagnosed out of state.
Of the total cases, 1,586 have been released from isolation, while 242 cases, or about 7 percent, have required hospitalization.
Overall, there have been 34 deaths in the state, with six on Maui, 27 on Oahu and one Kauai resident out of state.
* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at email@example.com.