20,000 face masks and hand sanitizer available for hard-hit Pacific Islander community

20,000 face masks and hand sanitizer available for hard-hit Pacific Islander community

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In response to an alarming number of coronavirus cases among Hawaii’s Pacific Islander community, some local organizations are answering the call to help stop the spread.

More than 20,000 face masks and nearly a hundred bottles of hand sanitizer were being distributed to neighborhoods most at-risk of being impacted by the virus.

A significant portion of the donation comes from the non-profit group EveryOne Hawaii, and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency has also made contributions.

The group in charge of sending the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) into the community is the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Hawaii COVID-19 Response Recovery Resilience Team.

The organization is co-led by Feleai Tau, who also works as the special assistant to Lieutenant Governor Josh Green and was part of a team sent to Samoa during the measles outbreak.

“We’re Pacific Islanders, but it’s not just one community of Pacific Islanders,” Tau said. “So I think the challenge is reaching that extensive reach out into each Pacific Island community to make sure that they have the right information, to make sure they have the tools and resources to navigate the pandemic.”

Recent statistics from the University of Hawaii show Pacific Islanders account for more than a third of all coronavirus cases in Hawaii.

“Getting them the PPEs and the education, it’s the number one thing that I think we need to do,” said James Upega, who also works on the COVID-19 Response Team and will be distributing PPE. “So getting the help out, it’s really necessary and especially with the culture that we have, all about family and gathering, that’s how we survive.”

Tau says that 4,000 masks have already been distributed at the Kamehameha IV Housing Complex as of Wednesday afternoon.

Those interested in obtaining PPE can reach out to the COVID-19 Hawaii response team at nhpicovidhawaii.net.

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