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Community spread begins

LIHU‘E — The state Department of Health confirmed another new case of COVID-19 on Kaua‘i Friday, and officials said there is evidence of community spread of the virus within the state.

Friday, DOH announced 11 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the state. Two of those, on O‘ahu, are suspected to be community spread.

DOH said Friday the two O‘ahu cases have no travel history and are not cases where they were in contact with people who traveled.

“This is the first time we’ve seen any evidence of community transmission, (a) situation where we have no history of exposure to someone who’s traveled or has traveled to an area where COVID1-19 is significant,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson, state DOH director.

Anderson said it’s now time to start making plans and taking precautions as if the virus has started spreading within the community.

“We’ve been talking about community spread for a long time. It’s beginning. We need to make sure we are following all the instruction the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the state Department of Health is putting out,” Anderson said. “It’s time to step up and take what we are recommending seriously.”

The total number of COVID-19 cases in the state of Hawai‘i was at 37 on Friday, with five on Maui, one on Hawai‘i Island, three on Kaua‘i and 28 on O‘ahu.

“The new case involves a female adult resident who is isolated at home and is currently in stable condition,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami in a Friday statement. “This person recently traveled back to Hawai‘i from New York on March 16 and immediately sought medical attention per advised protocols. From there she went directly home and remains in isolation. The Department of Health is investigating any close contact she may have had and is regularly monitoring her well being.”

Kawakami said the original two other cases on Kaua‘i are in stable condition and in isolation.

Friday, Senate President Ron Kouchi urged Governor David Ige to take immediate actions.

“With confirmed cases of COVID-19 rising rapidly and evidence of community spread, Governor Ige must take immediate and drastic action to slow infections before our hospitals become overwhelmed,” said Kouchi.

”This moment is critically urgent, and we cannot wait any longer. We see what is happening in other states that took too long to react. Now is the time for Hawai‘i to slow this incurable disease from devastating our community,” Kouchi said.

He continued: “Governor Ige must immediately order all residents to shelter in place for two weeks and shut down state operations. As recommended by our Senate Special Committee on COVID-19, we must must immediately impose a 14-day quarantine on all incoming airline passengers and ban non-resident cruise-ship passengers for the next 30 to 60 days.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, lawmakers were getting ready to finalize the COVID-19 stimulus package on Friday that will help millions of American citizens and business owners by providing some money by April 6, though the amount isn’t specified.

On Kaua‘i, the county is getting ready to launch its eight-week Kupuna Kare of Farmer Fare produce program in hopes of distributing farmers’ market produce to high-risk elders.

“The (county) Agency on Elderly Affairs will provide intake on kupuna who would like to participate in this program, and the (county) Office of Economic Development, part of the Mayor’s office, will do intake on the county Sunshine Market farmers who would like to take part,” said Kealoha Takahashi, OEA director.

“The program will also utilize as a partner the Hawai‘i Food Bank, Inc. to purchase produce from farmers, prepare the packages and perform distribution to kupuna,” she said.

The agency encourages kupuna ages 70 and older who are interested in participating in the Kupuna Kare of Farmer Fare program to call 241-4470 and for Sunshine Market farmers interested in becoming vendors to call 241-4299.

Kaua‘i County’s curfew began Friday night at 9 p.m., effective daily from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., with certain exceptions.

Anyone not exempt to the mayor’s emergency curfew rule could faced arrest with a violation of a misdemeanor. Upon conviction, the person shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Exemptions are: commuting to and from work; working for an essential service provider whose shifts are within the curfew window; delivery services associated with food-service establishments or stores that sell food and household supplies; and seeking medical attention.

This curfew is effective now through Sunday, May 3, and is subject to modification.



Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or
Source: The Garden Island

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