Hawaii’s Lanai imposes stay-at-home order, closes to visitors

Hawaii’s governor has implemented a stay-at-home order and travel restrictions for the island of Lanai beginning Tuesday because of an outbreak of coronavirus infections.

Gov. David Ige signed the order Monday requiring residents and visitors to remain at home or where they’re staying, except for essential purposes such as grocery shopping.

Travel to and from Lanai, which is the smallest inhabited island in Hawaii and is nine miles from Maui, is expected to be restricted to essential workers or for medical purposes, while anyone arriving on the island must quarantine for 14 days.

Even though it’s tiny, Lanai is big in the luxury vacation world. Larry Ellison snapped up nearly all of the Hawaiian island of Lanai for $300 million in 2012, and has since poured millions into transforming the former “Pineapple Isle.”

Ellison closed, renovated and reopened two five-star hotels, the 213-room seaside Four Seasons Resort Lanai (reopened in 2016) and the 96-room Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort (Formerly the Lodge at Koele), located in the island’s interior highlands. After closing due to COVID-19 last spring, both reopened to visitors on Oct. 15, but now their websites state they “are currently closed but accepting reservations for stays from November 10, 2020, onward.”

A Four Seasons spokesperson told SFGATE that all hotel guests have returned home or moved to other islands, and both hotels are now closed.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said the order would remain in effect for two weeks but could be extended if the number of cases keeps rising on Lanai.

The state Department of Health reported 79 infections there as of Monday, but officials predicted the figure could grow. Lanai had not reported any cases before last week.

The number of cases could be higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Straub Medical Center in Honolulu and the Hawaii National Guard planned to send personnel to help with testing.

Social distancing to slow the spread of the virus is a challenge for residents crowded at home and elsewhere, Victorino said.

“All they have to do is one person gets sick and it transmits very quickly throughout the community because they go to the same churches, they don’t wear masks as often or as they should,” Victorino said. “I think that’s something that’s been really negligible on their part. But we’re now trying to educate them.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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University of Michigan students given immediate stay-at-home order amid a spike in Covid-19 cases

The order came from the Washtenaw County Health Department on Tuesday, and is set to continue until November 3.

“The situation locally has become critical, and this order is necessary to reverse the current increase in cases,” Jimena Loveluck, health officer for Washtenaw County, said in a statement. “We must continue to do what we can to minimize the impact on the broader community and to ensure we have the public health capacity to fully investigate cases and prevent additional spread of illness.”

With the order, undergraduate students have to stay in their homes, unless they’re attending class, getting food or participating in “approved work that cannot be done remotely,” a news release from the health department said.

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“Students who wish to return to a primary residence may do so only if they have completed the U-M’s procedures for leaving campus safely,” the release said.

The news comes after two new studies — one from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the other from the North Carolina Department of Health — found that cases of Covid-19 surged among college-age individuals in August and September, right when schools were opening across the country.
Many colleges and universities have attempted to control the spread, but as of September 14, more than 45,000 Covid-19 cases had been reported at colleges and universities across the US.

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