Harbor Lights Cluster Rises to 75; Mayor Calls for Peace Amid Challenging Times
There are now 75 confirmed cases of COVID-19 tied to the Harbor Lights cluster in Kahului, Maui, with more testing slated to get underway today.
“We anticipate to see more positive cases from the Harbor Lights cluster,” county officials said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
County officials say Minit Medical Urgent Care will continue providing testing at the complex on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. This comes after a first round of testing on New Year’s Eve was conducted on 264 individuals, in addition to 20 additional tests administered by the Hawaiʻi National Guard on those in isolation.
Harbor Lights test results have been added to Maui County’s voluntary testing program numbers. For this testing, the county asks people to test about 72 hours after arrival as a secondary or “sandwich” test to their pre-arrival testing. It’s unclear why these cluster test results are being grouped with the post arrival test numbers.
As of Jan. 5, 2021, there were over 12,900 individuals participating in voluntary testing programs in Maui County, with an estimated 270 positive cases since the program’s inception on Oct. 18, 2020.
“We continue to work with DOH and the Governor’s Office on additional mitigation strategies,” county officials said, noting that they have been assisting with food distribution for those in quarantine and/or isolation, as well as providing face masks, PPE, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer.
The county is working with the Maui Food Bank, Feed My Sheep and local churches to assist with food needs. Feed My Sheep volunteers will join members of the Hawaiʻi National Guard on Thursday to distribute enough food and supplies for the entire complex; while the Department of Health employees will help deliver food to those in isolation.
County officials say Harbor Lights has opted to hire its own professional cleaning company with financial assistance from the County of Maui, and will advise when that is scheduled.
In the meantime, Harbor Lights management has instituted a fine for any owner or tenant who does not wear a face mask in public.
“They greatly appreciate the donations and support they have received from individuals, community organizations and the County of Maui,” county officials said in an update on Wednesday.
Maui Restaurant Hui Asks Mayor not to issue “Blanket Rule”
A group of demonstrators from the Maui Restaurant Hui was the larger of two groups that held rallies outside of the County Building on Wednesday.
The group was on hand to make sure the Mayor did not issue a “blanket rule” on shutting down restaurants. “The majority of us are following all rules,” one demonstrator said.
Rules currently in place include limits on occupancy and restrictions on operating time for both restaurants and bars. The mayor has not implemented closures at this point and continues to monitor metrics in determining any future actions.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said, there are “people who are committed to seeing small Maui County mom-and-pop businesses, restaurants and others who are affected in other ways… and this pandemic is not just only about health, which has been the number one priority, but it’s also the mental well-being of our citizens. They need that opportunity to see hope. So we’re trying to balance that.”
Noise Protest Attempts to Drown Out Mayor’s Press Conference
A group calling itself Hale Hawaiʻi organized a separate noise demonstration on Wednesday in an attempt to “drown out” the recording of the Mayor’s regularly scheduled press conference.
Organizers outlined five areas of concern amid rising cases of COVID-19 on Maui including: metrics, enforcement, transparency, safe schools and calls for the creation of a task force to bridge the gap between citizens, the county, and state. Signs that included calls to keep hotel workers safe, prioritize keiki and schools, and a reminder to wear masks.
NOTE: Maui Now has learned that the Hale Hawaiʻi demonstration included just a handful of people in comparison to a separate rally taking place by the Maui Restaurant Hui at the same site. *This story has been updated accordingly.
Mayor Issues Joint Statement With Council Chair Following Violent Events at the Nation’s Capitol
The Mayor’s briefing went on as scheduled without interruption and included participation from several religious leaders as the Mayor turned his attention to the events at the nation’s Capitol, condemning the violent protests that occurred earlier in the day as Congress worked to certify the results of the Presidential election.
He issued a joint statement alongside Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee calling for peace and aloha amid challenging times.
“On behalf of the County of Maui, we jointly condemn today’s violent protests in the nation’s Capitol. As we watch the turmoil in our nation’s capital, we in Maui County remain committed to peaceful protest and the peaceful transition of power, which are hallmarks of our American democracy.
The actions of these protestors are in direct opposition to Hawaii’s values that honor many people working together in the Spirit of Aloha. American Democracy is built upon a foundation of checks and balances. We believe that disagreement is a healthy and normal part of our political process. Every American has the right to agree or disagree with policy decisions, but nobody has the right to overturn the people’s choice in a fair and lawful election.
Mayor Victorino, his administration, Council Chair Lee and members of the Maui County Council are united in welcoming criticism of all levels of government, especially as we face unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are equally dedicated to the values of mutual respect, civil debate, and public safety.
Together we call for aloha in our hearts, peace on our streets, and respect in our words as we navigate these challenging times together.”