Coronavirus curve leveled, cautious reopening ahead
With the daily number of COVID-19 cases in Maui County down to zero or one in the past couple of weeks, we’ve leveled the curve of this pandemic. Now, we can cautiously take steps on the road to recovery.
We will need to learn to live with the coronavirus, adapting to a new normal in which social distancing, face masks and other health precautions become part of everyday life.
I congratulate you, the people of Maui County, for making the sacrifices that have gotten us to where we are today. You’ve stayed home. You’ve maintained physical distance from others. You’ve begun wearing face masks while in public, and you’ve paid much greater attention to sanitation.
It’s fitting that we have been celebrating honorary weeks set aside to recognize the public service of police, nurses and our hospitals. These are our front-line heroes. They take care of us. They keep us safe. So, if you see a nurse or police officer, please take the time to say, “thank you.”
Your words of appreciation will go a long way toward letting them know our community supports them in the important work they do in protecting and caring for our community.
We also celebrate and congratulate the graduating Class of 2020. Normally, at this time of year, we’d be getting excited about gathering for traditional graduation ceremonies with caps and gowns and lots of hugs, kisses and lei from family and friends. But that won’t be happening this year.
With public health safeguards foremost in mind, high schools are opting for alternative ways of celebrating graduations. Unfortunately, these don’t allow for the close personal contact we’ve all come to know and enjoy during graduations.
To honor you, our graduates, my administration has asked you to submit three-second video clips. Soon, you’ll be seeing these videos of our great high school graduates on County of Maui Facebook, YouTube and Instagram accounts. They’ll also be played on Akaku Maui Community Media channels.
You have endured so much in your senior year. This video tribute is our way of honoring you for your accomplishments and wishing you well in all your future endeavors.
Meanwhile, our road to recovery has led to a careful, phased-in approach to reopening Maui. First, we’ve reopened low-risk parks and activities, like select parks and golf courses. Our parks continue to be meant primarily for exercise, which is so necessary for everyone’s good health and well-being.
In our second phase of reopening, we’ve given the go-ahead to reopen retail businesses and services like car repair shops.
Beginning today, we’re reopening approximately 60 parks and tennis and pickleball courts. A list of open parks can be found on the Department of Parks and Recreation website at MauiCounty.gov.
Remember that some park facilities are not reopening yet. These include community centers, pools, gymnasiums, playgrounds, skate parks, dog parks and grill areas. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
To revitalize our local economy, the Office of Economic Development will launch the Kama’aina First Program for residents beginning June 1. This will give residents a chance to take advantage of deals on food, services and products while supporting island businesses that employ our friends and neighbors.
OED is gathering the deals and discounts at no cost to participating businesses. Businesses can offer special deals by visiting www.kamaainafirst .com to upload information. Or, contact OED by calling 270-7710 or email at email@example.com.
I would like to thank the Maui County Council for its support and providing $2 million for our Hawaii Emergency Laulima Partnership program to assist people impacted by job losses from COVID-19 and for $1 million for the Micro Business Loan program to help small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
For daily announcements and updates, please watch my 4 p.m. news conferences on weekdays. These can be seen live on the County of Maui Facebook page and on Akaku Maui Community Media.
Let me close with a few words of caution. This is not the time to let our guard down. We don’t want to see all the progress we’ve made set back because we didn’t follow health and safety precautions and allowed the coronavirus to return.
Stay healthy and safe. Aloha!
* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, discusses county issues and activities of county government. This column usually appears on the first and third Saturdays of the month.