The National Association of Counties (NACo) has recognized Maui County’s work to protect residents from COVID-19 by honoring it with an Achievement Award in the Health Category for its Community-Based COVID-19 Testing Programs. The award highlights innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.
“This program brought testing to people’s homes, neighborhoods and workplaces, and it has helped businesses and schools reopen, employees return to work and residents to have peace of mind,” Mayor Michael Victorino said. “This program underpinned Maui County’s strategy in taking a data driven, scientific based approach to rule making and keeping our community safe.”
The program was designed through a partnership with Maui County’s COVID-19 Testing Capacity Committee, made up of volunteer community doctors and health care professionals, including Elizabeth Ann Ignacio M.D., Hawaii Medical Association; Stephanie Yan M.D., Island Family Surgical Center; and Anjali Ohri M.D., Hawaii Pacific Health. The program was administered by Amanda and Justin Prouty, and Michael Jackowitz D.O. of Minit Medical Urgent Care.
The program’s purpose was simple: provide free, rapid and easily accessible testing to any individual who is willing, regardless of whether they do not have symptoms or known exposure. According to leadership from the National Institutes of Health, since nearly half of all COVID infections are transmitted by people who are not showing any symptoms, identifying infected individuals while they are pre- or asymptomatic plays a major role in keeping a community healthy.
The program was designed to reduce barriers to testing, such as cost, loss of insurance or whether an individual qualified for testing, and partnered with other agencies to bring free COVID testing to the hardest hit communities. The Maui District Health Office, Department of Health, National Guard, Feed My Sheep, Maui Food Bank and many other agencies were instrumental to implementing the program by providing services such as contact tracing, outreach, translating, traffic control, food for quarantined families and much more.
“Our program allowed Maui County to aggressively test and address known and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases in the community before larger community spread occurred,” Mayor Victorino said. “Mahalo to Maui County’s COVID-19 Testing Capacity Committee, Minit Medical and all of our partners for their commitment and perseverance in keeping our residents safe and healthy.”
From Oct. 16 through May 26, over 37,000 tests were administered with more than 1,000 positive test results identified throughout Maui County.
As of May 27, Maui County had the highest proportion of testing conducted in the State of Hawaii relative to its population, with approximately 1.15 Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests administered per capita, which does not include the thousands of antigen and antibody tests conducted as well.
NACo President Gary Moore said: “Over the past year, county officials and frontline employees have demonstrated bold, inspirational leadership. This year’s Achievement Award winning programs illustrate the innovative ways counties build healthy, safe and vibrant communities across America.”
Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.
Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.