Big Island Coronavirus Updates

COVID-19 Clinic Tests 78 Miloli‘i Residents

September 6, 2020, 7:16 AM HST
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Seventy-eight Miloli‘i residents were tested for COVID-19 on Saturday after a reported cluster prompted calls from county and state leaders to lock down the historic fishing village last week.

On Saturday, Premier Medical Group sent a team to offer a free drive-through clinic at the pavilion. Additionally, the State Department of Health had a mobile team that provided test swabbing at residents’ homes. Overall, 57 individuals came through the clinic and 21 were visited by the DOH.

Premier Medical Group’s Dr. Kaohimanu Akiona said there were a few symptomatic individuals and many had already received a rest.

“The community is very small and they know who and what went on,” Akiona said. “They are taking this very seriously.”

A larger clinic was held in Kea‘au on the same day where 342 residents were tested.

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“At the end of the day, this represents many who wouldn’t have otherwise been tested, so I am very proud of the team’s efforts,” Akiona said of the number of people tested.

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Hawai‘i Island is currently seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases where there are 260 active cases and five deaths, all veterans from Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home. News of the cluster in Miloli‘i was concerning to county and state leaders.

Hawai‘i County Councilwoman Maile David, who represents the fishing village, said she first received word from a Miloli‘i resident on Aug. 31 that there were health issues in the community and requested a testing clinic be brought to the area.

On Sept. 2, David explained the same resident reached out to let her know family members tested positive for COVID-19 and something needed to be done soon. At that point, David requested a clinic go to Miloli‘i.

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Sen. Kai Kahele along with Hawai‘i Island’s entire delegation submitted a letter to Mayor Harry Kim urging him to lock down the community.

At this point, Kim said, the county COVID-19 task force will do what it can to contain the infection.

Aside from providing testing, Kim said, the task force will provide education regarding the virus.

Kim feels this is the best course of action at this time.

“I don’t think people realize what it means to put a community on lockdown,” the mayor said. “I feel a lockdown is detrimental to your health.”

David stated in an email to Big Island Now on Saturday that she respectfully disagreed with Kim’s decision to not restrict the village to Miloli‘i residents only.

“We should do everything we can to and restrict access to areas that have COVID outbreaks and keep non-residents and the general public out of these areas until the outbreak is under control and recovery occurs,” David stated.

After spending the day providing testing in Miloli‘i on Saturday, Akiona wasn’t sure a lockdown of the community is the answer, adding it’s more important to provide southside communities with general support and resources amid the pandemic.

“A lockdown doesn’t solve those long-standing socioeconomic issues,” Akiona said.

Premier Medical Group is committed to retesting the community until there are no further positive results for the next two weeks. The next testing is yet to be determined.

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