Lanai, the sixth-largest of the Hawaiian Islands and the smallest publicly accessible inhabited island in the chain, which is 98% owned by Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle was largely shielded by Covid-19 for months, but a sudden spike has overcrowded its only hospital.
Ellison’s two Four Seasons resorts, a luxury wellness resort which employs nearly a quarter of the island’s residents, laid off or furloughed almost all workers in August.
Some employees returned last month for a reopening to tourists but it followed by a a wave of virus infections. More than 100 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the last two weeks of October.
“They’re going through what we went through in March and April,” said Michael Shea, chief medical officer of Maui Memorial Medical Center, who visited Lanai on November 2 with two employees of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ellison has donated testing supplies and invested in the hospital, while leaders at his company have directed the response in tandem with local government.
More than 4,000 tests have been conducted on the island largely thanks to the kits donated by Ellison, said Maui Mayor Michael Victorino, who also oversees Lanai. He last week eased lockdown measures after new infections started to slow.
After the initial outbreak, Lanai has had no new coronavirus cases since November 5. The island will be the test site of a new application called AlohaSafe that will alert people if someone they’ve been in contact with tested positive for Covid-19. If it works there, it will be launched state-wide, Victorino said.