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No Ka Oi Health

Here are brief answers to some common questions about COVID-19.

Q: How can I prevent the spread of COVID-19?

A: Wear a mask correctly, stay at least 6 feet away from others in public, wash your hands often, wipe down surfaces, avoid large gatherings and stay home when ill.

Q: Do masks prevent spread to others?

A: Wearing a mask is very effective at preventing the spread COVID-19 to others because it keeps your respiratory droplets from spreading out. You need to wear your mask correctly with it covering your mouth, nose and chin.

Q: Do masks protect me from COVID-19?

A: Cloth masks are about 65 percent effective at protecting the “wearer.” Masks are less protective for the wearer if others aren’t wearing a mask because air can enter our mouth through the sides of the mask.

Q: How can I safely interact with friends?

A: Social-emotional health is very important. The safest way to be physically safe while being social is to create a “social bubble” of one to two friends or families who are practicing prevention and socializing only within the “bubble.”

Q: Can I safely go to restaurants or bars?

A: To safely go to these establishments, you need to wear a mask except when sitting at your table. Outdoor dining typically has better ventilation. If you’re not comfortable dining in, you can opt for ordering takeout.

Q: COVID-19 has low death rates. Why can’t we go back to normal?

A: Most people are susceptible to being infected with COVID-19. We are nowhere near having “herd immunity.” With an estimated 10 percent hospitalization rate, if Maui dropped its guard and allowed COVID-19 to move through our community, we could have about 16,000 people needing hospital beds at the same time. Our health care system wouldn’t be able to adequately care for patients and more lives could be lost.

Q: How is contact tracing helpful?

A: Contact tracing is an established technique for preventing the spread of infectious disease. Interviewers notify people who have been exposed to COVID-19, place them into quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and then follow up with them daily throughout their quarantine period. If they develop symptoms, they are tested for COVID-19 and placed in isolation if the test is positive.

Q: My spouse is in isolation with COVID-19. How long do I need to quarantine?

A: If your spouse can isolate completely away from you (in their own room and bathroom, not using other areas of the home), your quarantine is 14 days from your last contact. If your spouse can’t isolate from you, you will need to quarantine as long as he/she is in isolation PLUS 14 days past their isolation release date. This extra quarantine time is because you may have been exposed up to the last day of their isolation.

Q: My spouse has been exposed and needs to quarantine. Do I need to quarantine?

A: No, contacts of contacts do not need to quarantine. If your spouse tests positive for COVID-19 though (becoming a positive case), you would then need to quarantine 14 days.

Q: People come here and don’t quarantine. What can we do about this?

A: Report quarantine violations to mpdquarantine@mpd.net.

Q: Why do I need to quarantine after travel or contact with ill people? I feel fine.

A: People can feel fine and yet be infectious with COVID-19. It’s important for all people who have had potential exposure to quarantine 14 days, so they don’t unintentionally spread COVID-19 to others.

Q: How do I protect myself from becoming severely ill from COVID-19?

A: People at higher risk for developing severe symptoms of COVID-19 include the following groups:

• 65 years and older.

• Weakened immune systems.

• Severely obese.

• Chronic conditions, diabetes or hypertension.

These groups especially need to protect themselves from being exposed. It’s also important to live healthy daily: exercise, eat healthy food, manage stress, and cut back on substances such as cigarettes and vapes. Living healthy boosts your immune system and can reduce your risk of severe symptoms.

The Maui District Health Office is working hard to keep Maui safe and answer your questions. If you have questions about COVID-19, visit https://hawaiicovid19.com or email us at DOH.MauiTriage@doh.hawaii.gov.

* Kristin Mills is public health educator with the state Department of Health’s Maui District Health Office. No Ka Oi Health is published on the second and fourth Thursday of the month by the state Department of Health.

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