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No Ka Oi Health

Nearly a year since COVID-19 locked down the world, the Maui District Health Office, along with many community partners, is continuing to work hard to mitigate COVID-19. Here’s a summary of what we are working on to flatten the curve.

• Case investigations: Infectious disease investigators follow up with people who test positive for COVID-19. Investigators gather information including symptoms, onset date and close contacts. This information assists our contact tracers.

• Contact tracing: Contact tracers follow up with COVID-19 patients and contacts of cases. They gather information which helps determine isolation release dates for COVID-19 patients and quarantine release dates for contacts.

• COVID-19 testing: Community partners and medical facilities have been testing people for COVID-19. Testing is vital to our efforts to flatten the curve.

• Quarantine and isolation: When a person tests positive for COVID-19, they need to stay in isolation until they recover. When a person has had contact with a positive patient, they need to stay in quarantine 10-14 days after their last contact. Both isolation and quarantine help limit the spread of COVID-19, especially since many people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic and can spread it without knowing.

• Vaccine clinics: Vaccine clinics are being held regularly and medical facilities are being trained to administer the vaccines. In total, more than 20,000 shots have been given to Maui County residents.

• Working with the airports for safe travels: We provide educational materials, signage and guidance on how to keep travel to Maui safe.

• Education on mitigation: The MDHO and the State Health Office have been creating and sharing education on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As Maui has a diverse population, these education materials have been translated into multiple languages.

• Answering questions from the community: Anyone can email questions to the MDHO at DOH.MauiTriage@doh.hawaii.gov and we will answer these questions in a timely manner.

What are you doing as residents of Maui to prevent COVID-19?

People have a wide range of concern or non-concern regarding COVID-19. Based on this range of concern, some people have been working hard to reduce spread while others are still gathering in large groups and not wearing masks. Regardless of your level of concern for your personal safety, please show respect to others’ concerns by continuing to prevent COVID-19. The more we keep our numbers down, the more our schools and businesses can open up. Further, even if people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or mildly ill, research is showing a chronic form of COVID-19, known as “long COVID,” can affect you. So, even if you are at low risk for severe symptoms of COVID-19, we need to keep cases down to prevent how many people develop long-term effects. There are many ways to be social without adding risk to our community, such as visiting in smaller social bubbles and video chats.

Now let’s address visitors to Maui . . .

Hawaii’s main industry is tourism. We need visitors in Hawaii to keep our businesses thriving. While we are happy to have you visitors here enjoying our islands, we absolutely need you to practice prevention while here. Even if you don’t have concerns about COVID-19 and even if you tested negative to travel here, please practice prevention out of respect to the residents here. We know we have lower numbers of COVID-19 compared to where you are visiting from, and we are empathetic that you want to completely enjoy your vacation while in Hawaii. But COVID-19 is still here and as our guests, please respect our community’s health and safety by practicing prevention (wear masks in public — including while window shopping, on hiking trails and beaches — physically distance and avoid gatherings larger than five). Residents have expressed that they are avoiding their favorite hangouts because visitors are not wearing masks. Residents need to be able to enjoy their local spots while feeling safe. We can all enjoy these areas with comfort if we all follow the public health rules.

Please have patience and show aloha to each other by practicing prevention! We’ll get through this together if we each show respect for each other’s concerns.

If you have questions about COVID-19, please contact Public Health Education at (808) 984-8216 or DOH.MauiTriage@doh.hawaii.gov.

* Kristin Mills is a public health educator with the state Department of Health’s Maui District Health Office. No Ka Oi Health is published monthly by the state Department of Health.

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