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Utah Pacific Islander community sends aid to Samoa during severe measles outbreak

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MIDVALE (ABC4 News) – As the Samoan government prepares to shut down for two days to issue vaccinations during a severe measles outbreak, a local Pacific Islander business is collecting medical supplies to send overseas in a donation drive.

Lita Sagato and her family own Sagato Bakery and Cafe – a local favorite in Midvale. They’ve called Utah home for the past 26 years, but home is also more than 5,000 miles away in the beautiful islands of Samoa. They visited just a month ago for a family reunion and that’s when the concerns began.

“It had been just a few weeks when people and kids started to get measles,” said Sagato. “But it wasn’t as serious then. I don’t think they realized how serious it would get.”

On Tuesday, the Government of Samoa reported the measles-related death toll was at 60 with 4,052 cases since the outbreak began. In the past 24 hours, 171 were recorded. Officials declared a state of emergency last month and announced that this week, they would shut down for two days to issue vaccinations.

“My family tells me everything’s been shut down. No one’s allowed to go out. Kids are to stay inside. So it’s pretty serious. They’re taking all the precautions. The government is also making sure that there’s curfews. People are not allowed to just be out and about until they can get a hold on this,” said Sagato.

Keeping a close eye on conditions in Samoa, Sagato knew she had to help in some way. Through a partnership with other businesses and organizations, her bakery will be collecting urgently-needed items to send to Samoa such as hand sanitizers, antibacterial soap, towels, medical face masks, vitamin A, and gowns.

“A lot of positivity there. Our community has gotten together. Samoans are resilient. They’re going to do anything to beat this and get back to normal,” she said.

Donations will be accepted at Sagato Bakery and Cafe from Tuesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until December 9th.

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