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Vehicle demonstration at airport for enhanced COVID-19 measures

Letter outlining program sent to mayor has the support of Council Members King, Molina, Sinenci and Paltin

About 10 vehicles circled through Kahului Airport on Saturday in a call for the implementation of a four-point COVID-19 prevention plan to safely reopen to tourism and prevent a future shutdown. Photos courtesy of Christopher Fishkin

The Maui News

About 10 vehicles circled through Kahului Airport on Saturday in a call for the implementation of a four-point COVID-19 prevention plan — including the forming of a pandemic task force and distribution of a voluntary smartphone contact tracing app — to safely reopen to tourism and prevent a future shutdown.

During a news conference that followed the drive-thru demonstration, organizer Christopher P. Fishkin urged county officials to consider four strategies to reopen safely, including the establishment of a pandemic task force for Maui, mandatory post-travel tests for visitors, a county education campaign to encourage mask wearing and social distancing and the implementation of the Perseus application, an anonymous COVID-19 contact tracing app for smartphones.

“If Maui doesn’t either aggressively pursue mitigations outlined in the Letter to the Mayor and-or temporarily opt out of State’s Safe Travel Program and reset with mitigations in place, then once community spread occurs, the island cannot reset for an extended time,” Fishkin said. “The busy season is coming, and so, it’s either pay now, or pay later. Let’s do the right thing now.”

Starting at 10 a.m., residents drove from the cellphone parking lot and circled the airport until noon, honking and displaying signs on their vehicle windows, such as “Perseus App unite to avoid Lockdown,” “keep Hawaii COVID-19 free,” and “honk for safe tourism.” Other signs included messages like “Protect our keiki and kupuna” and “do more to avoid lockdown.”

Protest participants honked and displayed signs on their vehicles Saturday such as “Perseus App unite to avoid Lockdown,” “keep Hawaii COVID-19 free,” and “honk for safe tourism.” Other signs included messages like “Protect our keiki and kupuna” and “do more to avoid lockdown.”

Hale Hawaii, one of the sponsors of the demonstration, made educational flyers to hand out to visitors about wearing masks and social distancing while on Maui. Maui Causes and Maui Real News also helped organize the event.

Fishkin of Maui Real News said that organizers presented a letter outlining the mitigation strategies to Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino. The letter has the support of Council Members Kelly King, Mike Molina, Shane Sinenci and Tamara Paltin.

Victorino must adopt these procedures now and “aggressively, if Maui is to remain safe and open,” Fishkin said.

In addition to launching a campaign to promote Maui’s existing rules on gatherings, social distancing and wearing masks, Fishkin said that establishing the Rapid Response COVID-19 Task Force in collaboration with the state Department of Health’s Maui District Office would help to create better emergency response plans and pinpoint hot spots.

The task force could be led by the county managing director and two council members, a state house representative, Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang, Dr. Stephanie Yan, and three community members who “have professional expertise and are qualified to assist and advise.”

Launching the Perseus app for anonymous contact tracing within Maui County would also be beneficial, he said.

“The app can have successful mitigation results even if the participation is just 10 percent and, it has already been approved by our County Council,” organizers wrote in the letter to the mayor.

It was also urged making mandatory the secondary post-travel test that is currently available to residents and visitors. The Kama’aina Card can be used as an incentive to use the Perseus app instead of choosing to take the second COVID-19 test.

“We need to be better prepared in order to avoid another shutdown,” the letter said.

During the news conference, Fishkin also read a statement by King: “Now, with the Lanai community spread of COVID-19, the importance of implementing the measures outlined in the attached letter hits home and cuts deeply . . . They have assured the council that today’s peaceful protest is not meant to shut down the airport but to allow those who have inside information an opportunity to share it publicly.”

Fishkin read a statement from Sinenci as well: “Being in a similar situation in East Maui — being a small, isolated community with multigenerational housing for our families, we wholehearted support these mitigation efforts.”

Hale Hawaii, Maui Causes and Maui Real News started a petition to gather support of their suggested policies and procedures. To sign, visit https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/maui-must-do-more-to-prevent-another-devastating-covid-shutdown.

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