Saturday, March 14, 2020

COVID-19: Kaua`i has its first confirmed cases, and debunking fake news--folks, the barges are still coming

Kaua`i today was confirmed to have its first active cases of COVID-19, in a tourist couple who are being kept in isolation.

The couple is at an undisclosed site overseen by Kaua`i County and being monitored by the state Department of Health. The case is being managed according to protocols set up in advance in anticipation of the event.

The confirmation, which was announced in a mass email from Kaua`i County a couple of hours after midnight, was based on testing of the couple performed yesterday (Friday, March 13, 2020).

Meanwhile, the stateʻs epidemic rumor mill continues to churn.

One of the most active rumors, that cargo to the island is being disrupted, has spawned new runs on supplies.

"I have never seen Costco so full. They had lines snaking away from the checkout counters, some of them all the way back to the pharmacy," one friend told me Friday afternoon.

At Safeway, two women asked me whether it was true that Young Brothers barges have been blocked from coming. Others reported rumors that the harbors have been closed.

None of that is true. I talked to store officials, who insist their supply lines are intact, and harbors and shipping officials. Food and toilet paper are still making their ways to the island. 

What the panic buying and hoarding has done is move supplies from store shelves, where people can get them as needed, into peoplesʻ home larders, where excess supplies are not available to people in need.

Matson took the step of issuing a press release in response to the rumors: 

“Matson intends to maintain all service schedules as normal with three arrivals a week to Honolulu and twice a week calls to each neighbor island port.

Young Brothers, the inter-island barge service, issued its own statement:   

"There are currently NO changes to sailing schedule or cargo acceptance at all ports. YB will continue to monitor COVID-19 and its impact to the State."

© Jan TenBruggencate 2020

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