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Proclamation will aid efforts to prepare for possible spread of virus

OUR COUNTY

As the County of Maui continues to prepare our islands for impacts from COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, I ask all residents to remain calm and do their part to prevent the spread of illness in our community.

I also want to stress that this is an evolving situation, and the state Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are taking the lead in coordinating emergency response to this virus. Things may change by the time you have read this column.

Myself and the rest of our state leaders believe it was prudent to issue an emergency proclamation in response to recent events across our nation. The proclamations issued by Gov. David Ige and the other counties will aid in efforts to prepare for the possible spread of the virus.

The proclamation gives the County of Maui the ability to suspend any county law that “impedes or tends to impede, or that may be detrimental to, the health, safety and welfare of the public.” This authorizes, in part, the use of public property for emergency management purposes and the ability to procure supplies expeditiously.

The emergency proclamation issued by the governor also authorizes the expenditure of state funds, as appropriated, for the purchase of supplies and equipment, and the speedy and efficient response to conditions that may be created by COVID-19.

The County of Maui’s proclamation will terminate after 60 days, or with the issuance of a termination of emergency.

Currently, we are maintaining contact with the state DOH, Governor’s Office and emergency management agencies statewide. County of Maui departments and our local agency partners are reviewing and updating emergency procedures and continuity of operations plans.

Our local partners, which we continue to meet with regularly, include transportation services, utility companies and visitor industry officials. Our tourism partners are well aware of the concerns revolving around the coronavirus and have taken proactive measures on protecting the health of their guests and workers.

The Maui District Health Office, led by Dr. Lorrin Pang, has been a resource for my administration and local agencies. They continue to advise us on necessary actions, and they will monitor any local cases that may arise. We also continue to work diligently with DOH and the state on identifying a quarantine facility.

The CDC is still investigating the Grand Princess cruise ship and we hope to have more information in the coming days. My administration and our county departments will be monitoring this situation very closely to ensure there are no impacts to our community.

Finally, I’d like to ask our residents and visitors to discourage the spread of rumors and misinformation. Emotions are high given the uncertainty surrounding this virus, but I want to emphasize that our emergency proclamations and preparation are proactive measures. Stay informed through official sources and subscribe to email updates at health.hawaii.gov/news/covid-19-updates/.

I encourage everyone to continue doing the common sense steps, such as washing your hands for 20 seconds, staying home when you’re sick and covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue. Families also only need enough supplies if they need to stay home while they’re sick, so please do not hoard supplies.

For more information and what you need to know about COVID-19, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, discusses county issues and activities of county government. The column usually appears on the first and third Saturdays of the month.

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