COVID-19 at grocer, MPD and humane society

Roselani Place reports two more staff cases

Two Maui Humane Society shelter dogs watch as employees deep clean the shelter in Puunene on Monday after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The shelter has reduced services at this time and has limited access to the public as a precaution. Katie Shannon photos

Ten employees at Foodland in Pukalani have tested positive for COVID-19, though store officials say the employees had “very limited contact” or no contact at all with customers.

Foodland spokeswoman Sheryl Toda said Monday that she could not elaborate on the type of work the employees did due to privacy reasons.

“We have been advised by the Department of Health that because our employees and customers are required to wear masks and because we practice social distancing, sanitize regularly and have Plexiglas barriers, the risk to customers is minimal,” Toda said in an email. “In addition, the fact that interaction with our customers is less than 15 minutes helps keep customers safe.”

Foodland held an in-store clinic Thursday to test everyone as a precaution since “confirming a few positive cases in our store earlier this month,” Toda said.

She said some employees were tested twice to confirm results.

Maui Humane Society Manager of Facilities Noe Carson cleans a crate Monday. The shelter staff was deep cleaning after a worker tested positive for COVID-19

“We were disappointed to learn that other employees tested positive at the clinic,” she said.

Those who tested positive along with their close contacts are required to self-isolate or quarantine per Health Department guidelines until cleared, Toda said.

The DOH and/or Foodland has contacted anyone who had close contact with the employees. The company is also working closely with DOH on appropriate next steps, Toda said.

As soon as the company learned of the positive cases, it immediately deployed a dry fogger unit that sanitizes the air and surfaces of the store and “has been used successfully in other locations that had positive cases,” Toda said.

“Our company is confident that we are doing everything we can to keep our employees and customers safe inside our store,” she added.

This includes mandating all employees and customers to wear masks at all times and practice social distancing. Employees clean and sanitize high-touch surfaces routinely.

Employees undergo temperature and wellness checks before starting work and are sent home if they don’t pass, Toda said. They also cannot have lunch in the break room together and are given guidelines on staying safe outside of work, as they could also catch the virus outside of Foodland, she added.

Meanwhile in Puunene, the Maui Humane Society temporarily reduced services as one employee tested positive, which led the agency to quarantine other veterinary department employees, CEO Steven MacKinnon said Monday afternoon. A Facebook post from the shelter late Monday afternoon said all those who were potentially exposed have tested negative, but public services will still be temporarily reduced.

MacKinnon said that the employee who tested positive works in the veterinary/medical department. He said staff will be in quarantine until at least Saturday.

However, there are a couple of employees from that department who do not need to quarantine. They will ensure things such as medicines can be delivered to shelter animals, he said.

The shelter noted in a Facebook post at around 4:30 p.m. Monday that all potentially exposed staff have tested negative. However, it will still be closed to the public through Jan. 31.

If emergencies come up, the shelter is working with veterinarians with the Central Maui Animal Clinic and the At Home Animal Hospital, MacKinnon said.

He added that the employee didn’t have contact with the public, but the Humane Society is being extra cautions by limiting services.

Until Jan. 31, the shelter will be closed for public appointments, including on-site adoptions, viewing of animals and licensing renewals. The shelter also will not be taking volunteers until further notice, according to its website.

Veterinary services for this week will be canceled, including spay and neuter services and adoption recheck appointments.

MacKinnon said they will reschedule any missed appointments.

The Humane Society also asks that trapping for cats be postponed.

Customer service representatives will be available by phone and email, but due to the increase in call volume and reduction in staff, callers may need to leave a message. Customer service can be reached at 877-3680, ext. 3 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For help or more information, email aloha@mauihumanesociety.org or info@mauihumanesociety.org.

A lost or found report can also be filed on the shelter’s website at mauihumanesociety.org/services/lost-found-pets/.

Animal enforcement staff are still on duty and unaffected, MacKinnon said. They can be reached at 877-3680, ext. 211. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

MacKinnon added that adoptions can also be done online. Drop-offs of deceased or stray animals, as well as foster animal drop-off and pickups, will continue but must be done by appointment.

The Maui Police Department also reported that it received confirmation Monday that an employee who works out of the Wailuku District tested positive. The asymptomatic employee last worked Friday and is in isolation at home, according to a news release. All common areas in the police station will be professionally disinfected and sanitized. The person will remain in isolation until cleared by the Health Department, police said.

State health officials also confirmed a cluster at Luana Gardens in Kahului on Friday. Hale Mahaolu, the operator of the apartments, referred questions Monday to the Health Department.

DOH spokesman Brooks Baehr said Monday evening that the department typically does not disclose the location of clusters or individual COVID-19 cases unless there is an imminent public health threat.

But Baehr said that officials were seeking information from the Maui District Health Office.

Also Monday, Roselani Place, an assisted living community in Kahului, reported that two new employees had contracted COVID-19. The facility said that since Jan. 11, five employees have tested positive for the virus. Three have been released from quarantine and two are still considered active cases and are isolating at home, according to an update from Roselani.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.


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