Former Miss Hawaii tests positive for coronavirus, pleads with state to ‘shelter in place’

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Former Miss Hawaii Jeanné Kapela is pleading with decision-makers in her native state to order people to “shelter-in-place” and to shut down schools and businesses indefinitely in order to protect its residents against the spread of coronavirus after she tested positive.

The 25-year-old beauty queen, who was crowned Miss Hawaii in 2015 and later competed in the Miss America pageant, made her plea via a Facebook post on Friday, in which she wrote that she believed she was exposed to the virus during a recent trip to New York City where she said she auditioned for the New York Jets dance team.

“I was concerned about having potentially been exposed to COVID-19 in New York and tried to get tested before returning to Hawaii, but was unable to do so due to the nationwide shortage of tests that we were, and still are, experiencing,” she wrote.

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Kapela said she feels “fine,” except for a minor cough, and said on Friday she wasn’t experiencing any flu-like symptoms but is still under quarantine “for at least seven days following the date of my test.”

“I even inquired about being tested immediately upon arriving back in the islands, which I was informed might be possible,” Kapela wrote. “Again, however, my attempt to be proactive and precautionary was rebuffed and the information I was given turned out to be false.”

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Kapela said she ultimately “took it upon myself” to visit a local hospital in order to keep those around her safe. She said all of the parties that she had been in contact with since returning home have been notified, adding that “luckily, none of them, including my family, are showing symptoms” of COVID-19.

“While I was initially shocked about my test result, my shock has become deep concern for our state,” she wrote. “Now is the time to band together in common cause to prevent the spread of this illness on our shores.”

“I call upon Big Island Mayor Harry Kim to enact stronger measures to protect our island from coronavirus,” Kapela continued. “It is imperative that our mayor implements a mandatory 15-day shelter-in-place order four [sic] our county and prohibit all nonessential travel to and from the Big Island. Additionally, our state should close all schools indefinitely to protect teachers and our keiki, while quickly instituting a two-week quarantine for all travelers entering the islands.”

Although schools in Hawaii are currently on an extended spring break, they are scheduled to reopen on April 6 and Kapela is urging lawmakers to prioritize those most in need of assistance.

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“Finally, lawmakers must prioritize working families and small businesses in overcoming the financial devastation wrought by this crisis,” she said. “When we help workers meet their basic needs, everyone prospers. Paid sick and emergency leave, access to childcare and family leave, increases to unemployment benefits, and the extension of loans to impacted local businesses are all measures that are vital in protecting economically vulnerable residents and public health.”

Kapela concluded: “We are one ‘ohana. We will get through this. Together, we will emerge more united, more resilient, and more filled with aloha for one another.”

Over the weekend, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said the state's majority of COVID-19 cases so far are linked to travel, which makes it "critical" to mitigate the spread of the virus by those arriving from out of state.

In a concerted effort to mitigate the spread of the virus, the state announced on Saturday that all visitors and returning residents to the region will be required to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine starting on Thursday in what the Ige called an "extreme action."

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“These actions are extreme, but they will help flatten the curve and lay the groundwork for a quicker recovery," Ige said Saturday. "We need everyone to comply with these quarantine orders to help protect Hawaii’s residents."

The state announced 11 new cases of people with coronavirus, bringing Hawaii's total to 48 as of Sunday. Three of them are hospitalized, according to Hawaii News Now.

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun contributed to this report.