The County of Maui is monitoring and preparing for potential impacts from coronavirus, renamed COVID-19, and encourages residents to remain calm and do their part to prevent the spread of illness.
“As the threat of the coronavirus continues to affect our nation and state, I want to assure our residents and visitors that we are doing everything we can to protect our community,” said Mayor Michael Victorino. “We have taken added precautions and are preparing personnel to respond to possible cases in the future, so I’m asking everyone to remain calm and stay informed through official sources.”
During recent weeks, county directors, deputies, and staff have had numerous video conference calls with the State Department of Health, Governor’s Office, and emergency management agencies. The Maui District Health Office has been a resource for county leadership and the office continues to monitor for possible cases. Emergency response partners, including officials from the visitor industry and utilities companies, have also been receiving regular updates and guidance on dealing with concerns related to the COVID-19
According to the State Department of Transportation, Kahului Airport plans to receive additional hand sanitizer stations. All airlines have also made extra efforts to sanitize their equipment and stations, and have ramped up cleaning of planes.
“One of our primary goals we’d like the public’s assistance with is in detecting and minimizing COVID-19 within our community,” said Maui Emergency Management Agency administrator Herman Andaya. “We encourage all families to create a plan and prepare a kit similar to those during hurricane seasons. This includes a 14-day supply of food, water, and other necessities for your family and pets, as well as a three-month supply of any needed medication.” Andaya also wants to discourage residents from hoarding supplies.
Daily updates on COVID-19 for the public are now available through the State DOH. To subscribe for email updates, visit Health.hawaii.gov/news/covid-19-updates.
“We are asking the public to prepare sooner, rather than later, as we face potential risks associated with the coronavirus,” said Victorino. “We will continue to do our part in protecting Maui County from the spread of disease, and we mahalo you for doing your part.”
The Maui News reported Tuesday that all COVID-19 testing kits are being held on O‘ahu. Any individuals on Maui suspected to have COVID-19 will have samples sent to the neighboring island to get tested.
The US State Department has issued a Level 4 travel advisory asking people not to travel to China due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A Level 3 travel warning has been issued for South Korea, advising people to avoid all nonessential travel to the country. A Level 2 travel advisory has been issued for Japan, which advises people to exercise increased caution, especially for older adults and those with medical conditions.
Travelers are asked to review any Travel Advisories and Alerts for their destinations at Travel.state.gov/destination. The State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide specific advice to travelers on its websites.
The County has released a list of steps residents and visitors can take to help prevent respiratory illness, including the coronavirus, during this flu season: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; stay home when you are sick; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. A mask can be effective if you are ill and can prevent the spread of your illness but a mask is not effective to wear when you are well and want to protect yourself from someone who is ill.
For more information on how residents can prepare their home, visit Health.hawaii.gov/prepare/files/2018/06/Plan_To_Be_Ready.pdf. A family plan worksheet can be downloaded from: Dod.hawaii.gov/hiema/files/2016/03/bw_emergency_plan.pdf. For a comprehensive list of specific measure you can take, visit: Cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html#precautions.
Image courtesy Flickr-Department of Agriculture