2 Lanai residents flown to hospitals as virus cases increase

2 Lanai residents flown to hospitals as virus cases increase
Vehicles lined up Saturday morning for coronavirus testing on Lanai. (Source: Anthony Kaauamo Pacheco)

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — Two residents of the Hawaiian island of Lanai infected with the coronavirus have been flown to hospitals as the number of cases on the island increased, health officials said.

A COVID-19 cluster on the island increased to 97 reported cases by early Wednesday afternoon, the Hawaii Department of Health reported.

One patient on Lanai was transported to Maui and the other was moved to Oahu, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said.

Two others could be taken to Lanai Community Hospital and later transported to Maui or Oahu hospitals if needed, Victorino said.

Lanai is under a stay-at-home order until Nov. 11 because of an outbreak reported last week that officials said started at large social gatherings and spread among households.

A second round of mass testing on Lanai is planned for Saturday, he said.

“The cluster on Lanai has somewhat leveled off as I predicted,” Victorino said.

Victorino responded to a report that the number of positive cases among Lanai High and Elementary School students had doubled to 30 since last week, saying the spread among students started with children who initially did not show symptoms.

“I’m always concerned when COVID cases rise in any area, especially a small island like Lanai where they have limited medical facilities,” Victorino said.

Lanai Community Hospital can test about 40 people per day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Managing Director Sandy Baz said.

“I think we have things in hand,” Victorino said. “We have taken the necessary precautions. I’m cautiously optimistic we will be able to get out of this, but more new cases will be coming up because of contacts.”

The Hawaii Department of Health reported two deaths and 77 new virus cases statewide Wednesday, bringing the number of reported cases since the pandemic began to 14,911 with a death toll of 215.

For most people, the 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.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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