Tracking Coronavirus in Hawai‘i—March 18, 2020
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 16 statewide but health officials say no community spread of infection. Honolulu orders bars, restaurants and nightclubs to stop indoor service Friday night. Kaua‘i says no to visitors and yes to nightly curfew.
Photo: David Croxford
Wednesday, March 18 Update, 6:30 p.m.:
Case count climbs by two since yesterday. The state Health Department today reported two additional positive tests for the disease on O‘ahu, bringing the confirmed cases to 16 statewide, all of them travel-related. Officials said the results for the relatives of the Kualoa Ranch tour guide who tested positive this week for COVID-19 were negative.
That adds up to 10 on O‘ahu, one on Hawai‘i Island, two on Kaua‘i and three on Maui, the state reported. The encouraging news came with the negative results of the people who became ill who live with the Kualoa tour guide who had tested positive over the weekend. This case is being closely watched because it is the first of the 16 confirmed COVID-19 cases within the state to not involve a person who traveled and could have signaled the start of a worrisome trend that the disease had started to spread within the community. State health director Bruce Anderson said experts suspect that the guide got the disease from a traveler she met at work which means there is no direct evidence of community spread in Hawai‘i at this time.
While Anderson expects that some spread in the community will eventually occur, all of the precautions announced yesterday by Gov. David Ige to shut down most activities for 15 days are aimed at slowing the disease from taking hold in the community.
As a follow-up to Ige’s call to close, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell this afternoon signed an order telling bars, restaurants and nightclubs to stop indoor service as of 8:30 p.m. Friday night for 15 days. He emphasized that all core city services of police, fire, emergency medical services as well as water, rubbish and sewer will continue. But Caldwell said at a news conference that the proclamation asks all bars and restaurants to close indoor sitdown dining as of Friday evening and shift entirely to takeout, curbside service and delivery.
If they don’t comply? Caldwell said he thinks most people will follow the directive out of concern for public health and the greater community. However, he said, “If necessary we can investigate and crack down.”
Given the updated guidelines from the CDC against gatherings of more than 10 people, Caldwell closed most city facilities through April 30. This includes the closure of the Neal S. Blaisdell Center; municipal golf courses; the Honolulu Zoo; city parks and outdoor park amenities including pools, courts and fields; city gyms and indoor facilities; Honolulu Botanical Gardens; city camp sites; the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve; and the Koko Head Shooting Complex. He said this will also result in the suspension of classes, programs and events both organized by the Department of Parks and Recreation or permitted to other organizations, including the 93rd Annual Lei Day Celebration.
TheBus and TheHandi-Van will continue to operate on normal routes and schedules, unless otherwise noted.
Kaua‘i curfew. Kaua‘i Mayor Derek Kawakami agreed with Ige’s call for tourists to stop coming to visit, used stronger language to discourage them from visiting the Garden Island and ordered a nightly curfew to begin Friday. Kawakami says that the emergency curfew means that most people should stay home and not go out beginning Friday between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. each night. Exceptions would be made for those commuting to and from work, providing essential services including deliveries, and those seeking medical attention. He said the bold steps were needed. “Until further notice visitors should not be traveling to our island for recreational purposes. Kaua‘i is on vacation,” Kawakami said.
Save the supply. Health officials, locally and nationally, continue to remind people that testing supplies are in critically short supply nationwide, including a severe shortage of personal protective equipment including masks and other gear.
Test only when needed. Yesterday, state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park emphasized that mildly ill patients without risk factors for severe disease from COVID-19 infection should stay home and contact their health care provider by phone for guidance about clinical management. For those cases who neither have underlying illness nor are elderly, Park says the treatment for those with mild symptoms—even if they do test positive—would be similar to a flu: sleep, drink liquids, isolate from others.
Caution now: As COVID-19 spreads globally and now nationally, the state says it is detecting more cases introduced into our state by both visitors and residents alike. While the state does not yet have an indication of community transmission, officials stressed that now is the time for everyone in our community to practice social distancing (that is, maintain at least a 6-foot distance or two arms’ length, whichever is longer, from others) to protect especially those who are most vulnerable in our community.
Health Department launches new COVID-19 website. Today, the Hawai‘i Department of Health mobilized an inter-agency effort to keep the community informed through timely information and resources on the coronavirus, including guidance on how to prevent and mitigate community spread, common symptoms of COVID-19 and frequently asked questions at hawaiicovid19.com
Tuesday, March 17 Update, 4:45 p.m.:
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Gov. David Ige announced today he is directing that bars close and restaurants pivot to takeout, that tourists should postpone visiting the state for at least 30 days and thermal scanning will be used on those arriving by air or ship.
“We need to take care of our people and communities first,” Ige said. “We know there will be significant impact.”
Ige encouraged everyone in the state to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, following the federal guidelines suggested yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We’re suggesting that all activities shut down for the next 15 days.”
Ige emphasized that there has been no disruption in the food and product supply chain. “There is no reason to hoard.” He said nonessential state workers should stay home as should any workers who can telecommute and that people who have traveled should self-isolate for 14 days after their return.
Ige acknowledged that the actions are more aggressive than he was willing to take earlier. “These actions may seem extreme to some of you,” he said, but are needed to respond to the rapidly changing health crisis. Ige called for these actions:
Close theatres, entertainment centers and visitor attractions.
Avoid any discretionary travel.
Suspend services and activities in places of worship.
Stay home if you are a high-risk individual and take additional precautionary measures.
Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities.
If someone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19, keep the entire household at home.
State health director Bruce Anderson earlier told reportersin a teleconference that the total of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hawai‘I rose to 14 today although he cautioned that more screening will turn up more cases even as the community hunkers down to try to slow the spread of the disease.
State epidemiologist Sarah Park says three of the four latest cases are travel-related. The first Big Island case is a Mainland traveler, and two on O‘ahu are residents who traveled, one to Japan and the other to the Philippines. Park had not received details about the fourth case on Maui in time for a 1:30 p.m. media briefing today.
Park says tests are still pending on the family members who are sick in the home of the Kualoa tour guide who tested positive. Both she and Anderson stressed the importance of maintaining social distancing. “Stay at home, avoid people as much as possible,” Anderson said.
So far, it’s unclear if the disease is spreading in the community beyond any travel connection, Anderson said, because the Kualoa tour guide could have been exposed through a traveler she met at work. Asked if tours should continue in our tourism-reliant economy, Anderson replied: “Our general recommendation would be to avoid groups and gatherings and that would include tours, where people come into close contact with one another.”
While additional testing capability will determine the extent of the disease in our community, Park said she wants to stress that “those who do not have symptoms should not be tested.” With a nationwide shortage in test kits and masks and other protective gear, Park said testing of those who are anxious rather than ill “burns through our tests,” as well as other critically needed protective equipment.
“We want to be mindful of judicious testing,” Park said.
LATEST HAWAI‘I LAB TEST RESULTS:
The state Health Department testing update as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 17: 14 presumptive positives, 12 under investigation and tested with results pending, 93 people tested negative, nine people self-monitoring with health department supervision on O‘ahu and no one currently in quarantine.
State scam alert. Be wary of scams and price gouging and report people trying to prey on coronavirus fears. That’s the message from Hawai‘i Attorney General Clare Connors and the state Office of Consumer Protection. Conoors said these include charity scam websites, those offering bogus medical treatment claiming to cure or prevent COVID-19, and misinformation about the disease through social media, text messages and emails.
Watch for fraudulent emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or experts saying they have information about the virus. Verify information through government websites such as ftc.gov, cdc.gov, health.hawaii.gov, who.int
Don’t click on links from sources you do not know which could include computer viruses and phishing attempts by those pretending to be something they are not.
Ignore offers of goods or services for COVID-19. Currently, there are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19. Scammers may offer fake vaccines and other bogus medical products and offer “get rich quick” investment schemes for virus treatments.
Beware of fundraising solicitations and don’t rush into making donations through charities or crowdfunding sites. Verify the charity’s legitimacy before giving.
Price gouging refers to sellers trying to take unfair advantage of consumers during an emergency or disaster by jacking up prices for essential consumer goods and services. The state Office of Consumer Protection may, on behalf of the public, investigate and prosecute price gouging. Anyone who may have been a victim of price gouging, or who has information about it, is encouraged to immediately file a complaint by calling (808) 587-4272 or online at cca.hawaii.gov
State libraries closing tomorrow. To heed the social distancing recommendations, the Hawai‘i State Public Library System today “has made the difficult decision to close all public library locations for public access effective March 18 to 31, 2020. Bookmobile services will also be suspended.” Library officials say the are working to evaluate and adjust operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic and thank patrons for their understanding.For those who have checked out items, officials say don’t worry about fine and fees, due dates and holds will be automatically extended to cover the closure period. Patrons may drop off library books and materials at any branches.For those online, the system provides free access at librarieshawaii.org with many amazing online resources that are available 24/7 for free with your library card. The online collection includes: ebooks and audiobooks; digital magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times; homework resources, such as Mango languages; and other online learning tools.
Honolulu gives 90-day extension on licenses/IDs. The city’s Department of Customer Services announced today that it will extend by 90 days the expiration date on driver licenses and state identification cards issued on O‘ahu, and allow drivers age 72 and older to renew their two-year licenses by mail under certain conditions to follow CDC recommendations. The new move automatically grants a 90-day extension on the expiration date of driver licenses and state identification cards that expire in the months of March, April, May and June, effective on March 18.
Sapporo flights paused. Hawaiian Airlines also announced today it will suspend its three-times-a-week flights between Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and Sapporo, Japan from April 2 through July 18.
Monday, March 16 Update:
As the total of positive tests for COVID-19 in Hawai‘i rose to 10, Gov. David Ige issued a supplemental emergency proclamation to help provide additional relief to deal with the disease fallout.
Some effects of that include:
Doing away with the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits for those who lose their jobs because of the disease. (State officials encourage people to file claims online.)
Suspend administrative procedures and Sunshine Law requirements to allow public meetings to be conducted electronically while still ensuring public participation consistent with recommended social distancing practices. Journalism and free-speech advocates are questioning the need for this move.
Giving state officials the power to try to prevent hoarding of items needed for the public welfare by providing power to regulate or ban actions.
Ige acknowledged the increasing disruption of daily life for residents as the first evidence of community spread of the disease without known travel-related causes emerged.
“As more cases are confirmed, events canceled, and social distancing measures taken, it’s understandable that people are anxious,” Ige said at a news conference in his office. He said he’d considered taking the step of other states that ordered closing of bars and restaurants but wasn’t ready to take that move, believing that businesses such as restaurants and theaters can find ways to maintain social distancing and still operate.
Ige noted that the positive test for a Windward O‘ahu woman who is a tour guide at Kualoa Ranch with no history of traveling herself could be an indication of community spread. However, health officials noted that since her job consists of spending time with visitors, travel could still be a factor.
Ige announced his appointment of Ken Hara, director, Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency, to be the incident commander in response to President Trump’s request to select an emergency manager. The governor said Hara will work closely with state health director Bruce Anderson. “I wanted to start by saying the National Guard is not taking over,” Hara said.
More testing statewide. Hilton Raethel of the Hawai‘i Healthcare Association announced that as of this week there are 42 sites across the state that can screen for the disease. But he emphasized that people who are asking for testing need to consult a doctor about meeting the criteria of: fever, cough or hard time breathing; exposure to someone confirmed with COVID-19; or a history of travel to a country or area with widespread COVID-19.
Health officials provided an update on the latest three cases, all moderate cases that have not required hospitalization, that take the total case number to 10.
A Mainland man and woman arrived on Maui March 7, one of the couple showed symptoms on March 9 and and sought treatment March 11 and was tested. They at first isolated themselves and remain isolated with one of them symptom free and the other with moderate illness.
An O‘ahu couple traveled to Las Vegas and returned with symptoms. One of them, a healthcare worker at Kapi‘olani Medical Center, was tested and the family is in isolation.
An O‘ahu resident who works as a tour guide at Kualoa Ranch on March 9 developed symptoms and she went to urgent care on March 11 and returned March 12 and tested. She has been advised to remain separate from members of her large family. Three of the members have symptoms, were tested and awaiting results.
LATEST HAWAI‘I LAB TEST RESULTS:
The state Health Department testing update as of 3:30 p.m. Monday, March 16: 10 presumptive positives, seven tested with results pending, 86 people tested negative, nine people self-monitoring with health department supervision on O‘ahu and no one currently in quarantine.
City services. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced that the city and county of Honolulu will follow the CDC’s most recent large gatherings recommendation of prohibiting gatherings of 50 people or more at city facilities. He provided a list of indoor city facilities that would close but left parks, golf courses, the Honolulu Zoo and most outdoor centers open, including camping and picnic sites. Caldwell said Hanauma Bay would close because it requires guests to watch a video indoors in an enclosed space. The Neal S. Blaisdell Center will cancel all events with an attendance of 50 people or greater, scheduled between March 16 thru April 30.
The Bus and Handivan: Mayor Caldwell recommends riders only use The Bus and Handivan for essential travel-related reason to seek care, food, work and other essentials. He said The Bus will continue to operate as scheduled and will continue cleaning and sanitization of high-touch areas.
Legislature on hold. State legislative leaders also announced today that they are taking the unprecedented move of suspending the legislative session beginning tomorrow. "On any given day, hundreds of people visit and work at the State Capitol. To combat the spread of COVID-19, it is important that we limit gatherings, especially those involving vulnerable populations," said senate president Ron Kouchi.
Homeless Triage Center. The city will be designating the Ka‘a‘ahi Facility in ‘Iwilei near the IHS women’s facility as a homeless triage center for any members of that population who test positive. The center includes 26 residential units and will be operated by the state Health Department, which will provide additional services using COVID-19 funding.
Sunday, March 15 Update, 9 p.m.
Out of concern for the potential spread of COVID-19, Hawai‘i public schools will extend spring break for an additional week. Gov. David Ige today announced the move to keep schools closed through March 27. He also updated the number of people testing positive for the virus here in Hawai‘i to seven as of this afternoon. Ige emphasized that all the positive tests are linked to travel elsewhere and there is no indication that the disease is spreading in the community.
State health director Bruce Anderson stressed that the best way to slow the spread of the disease in Hawai‘i is to practice social distancing, keep away from others, work from home, avoid large gatherings and take precautions seriously. “This is the time we need to take action,” Anderson said. “It’s not too soon.”
At a news conference in the governor’s office, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell chimed in: “I think it’s critical that we try to encourage people not to come into contact with each other—to stay apart as much as possible.” Both Ige and Caldwell say they’re working to determine which government employees can work from home when practical. Ige says no furloughs are planned.
State senate president Ron Kouchi and education chair Michelle Kidani said the closing includes all public schools, charter schools, track schools—such as Kapolei Middle and Mililani Middle that were scheduled to meet this week—the A-Plus program and early-learning classrooms. In a statement, the senators said that federally funded Head Start and Pre-Plus classes will also be closing.
The president of the public teachers union, Corey Rosenlee, said the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association is concerned about the health and safety of members and students and will work with the Department of Education and others “to make sure we provide a learning experience that takes care of the needs of our keiki, and is equitable and enriching.” However, after initial meetings tonight, Rosenlee issued a statement questioning the initial proposal: “We have serious reservations as this current plan violates the HSTA contract,” he said, specifically a provision that says “when students are sent home from school or are not required to attend due to emergencies which endanger health or safety, teachers will not be required to remain at, nor report to, said schools.”
Ige said the current plan is for students to return to school on March 30. “Obviously, that is subject to change depending what the conditions are.”
On the health front, Ige outlined the latest cases discovered by private Clinical Laboratories of Hawai‘i:
The first of two O‘ahu cases: the first a resident who had traveled to Colorado from Feb. 29 through March 7. Began having symptoms March 9, tested March 11. Person and family members will be in self-quarantine. A child in the home showed respiratory symptoms but tested negative for COVID-19 but will remain in 14-day home quarantine. The child’s preschool was notified.
The second case on Maui was a flight attendant for Air Canada who flew on March 8, symptoms showed up March 9, tested on March 11. She was exposed to a known case in Germany on March 4, put herself in isolation at the Royal Lahaina resort and has since been moved by private ambulance to another isolation location.
The third was an O‘ahu resident who returned with family from a Florida vacation on March 8. The person developed cough but no fever March 9, tested March 10, and that individual is in self-isolation away from the family; the rest of the family is separately remaining at home.
With the return of college students from across the country, travel of vacationing residents and many visitors still coming to our tourism-centric state, Ige said, “if you are coming from an area that had community spread of the virus to many individuals, we would ask that you self-isolate.”
More drive-up test collection. Hawai‘i Pacific Health’s three O‘ahu medical centers—Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children, Pali Momi Medical Center and Straub Medical Center—began offering drive-up specimen collections on Friday, March 13, as did Wilcox Medical Center on Kaua‘i. Weekday hours are 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
Patients need a physician order for the test, along with a photo ID and insurance card. It’s very important for people to know that if they are interested in being tested, they need to contact their doctor first.Their doctor will determine the need for testing based on a number of factors, including symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath), travel history and/or other concerns for COVID-19. Should their doctor decide that the patient meets the criteria for COVID-19 testing, their doctor will provide a lab order for the test.
ʻIolani School announced it is closing on-campus classes. Effective Monday, March 16, four days before its scheduled spring break March 20–27, ‘Iolani is closing classes because “at least one parent in our community is in the COVID-19 testing protocol awaiting results.”
Australia/New Zealand flights to pause. Hawaiian Airlines announced it will suspend direct flights from Honolulu to Australia and New Zealand later this month due to new government entry restrictions requiring a 14-day self-isolation for arrivals.
Ala Moana Center shortens shopping hours. Ala Moana Center announced it is shortening hours to noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; Sundays, noon to 6 p.m. Apple Stores nationwide have shut down in-person operations for two weeks.
Mayor Caldwell announced more Honolulu events canceled. Honolulu senior programs, performances of the Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Hawaiian Band indefinitely due to COVID-19. Caldwell also says the city will roll out emergency plans to care for members of the homeless population who might test positive.
LATEST HAWAI‘I LAB TEST RESULTS:
The state Health Department testing update as of 5 p.m. Sunday, March 15: seven presumptive positives, one tested with results pending, 49 people tested negative, nine people self-monitoring with health department supervision and no one currently in quarantine. Of the nine individuals self-monitoring with public health supervision, all are on O‘ahu. These numbers shift often as travelers arrive, depart, and begin and end their self-monitoring, according to state health officials.
Saturday, March 14 Update:
11:15 p.m. update: Two more reports of individuals testing positive for COVID-19 came in this evening: a female visitor on Maui; and someone on O‘ahu, according to state and county officials. The Hawai‘i Department of Health says the two presumptive positive test results came in from private laboratories and are pending confirmation by a certified state public health laboratory before officially bringing the state count to six cases. The Department of Health received the test results this evening and notified the County of Maui, the City and County of Honolulu and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State health officials say they are working with the CDC to develop next-step response and mitigation initiatives and will follow up with those who have had close contacts with the individuals. Maui officials said tonight that the female visitor is currently in isolation and continues to be monitored by the state Department of Health. Honolulu officials did not provide further details tonight pending tomorrow afternoon’s news conference with the governor.
Earlier, Hawai‘i health officials confirmed a third and fourth case of travel-related COVID-19 after positive test results came back for a tourist couple from Indiana who visited Maui and Kaua‘i this month. Three local health care workers who were not wearing appropriate protective gear are now in self-isolation as a result, according to Gov. David Ige. He appeared at a news conference midday with state health director Bruce Anderson and state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park.
Timeline from officials today
March 2: A couple from Indiana, an adult man and woman who are being described as Case A and B, traveled on a direct United Airlines flight to Maui.
March 2 to 8: Stayed at a Lahaina hotel. Case A developed fever, cough, shortness of breath.
March 4: Case A seen at a Maui urgent care facility and given a flu test that came back negative. And Case B started feeling ill.
March 7: Case B seen at an urgent care facility.
March 9: Flew on Hawaiian Airlines Flight 149 from Maui to Līhu‘e.
March 9 to 14: The couple was staying at the Kaua‘i Marriott.
March 9: Case A seen at urgent care on Kaua‘i and prescribed antibiotics.
March 12: Case A was seen at Wilcox Hospital on Kaua‘i. Told medical personnel they had close contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19 on the Mainland. Samples taken.
March 13: Test results came back positive last night, they are feeling better and are currently in an isolation facility provided by the county, away from the general public.
March 14: State publicly announces the two new cases in visitors from another states, bringing the total to four. One, an elderly man who had traveled to Washington state, remains hospitalized and seriously ill at Kaiser Permanente’s Moanalua center, while the others are recovering.
Park says the exposure of three health care workers sent home from work proves another reminder of the importance of being vigilant. The health department is notifying those in close contact with them as well as the couple. Ige said: “We work through what their itineraries were, who they may have come in contact with and we make anyone that we are aware of, aware that they came into contact with someone who was COVID-19 positive.” Ige said the number of community sample test results rose to 62 today and all samples were negative. He said the seven pending state tests from yesterday all came back negative. The statewide sampling included samples from every county, he said, and that will be expanded to about 200 samples per week. Park says anyone who is experiencing these symptoms should notify health care providers of any travel now and should always provide travel history.
Daily operations for TheBus and TheHandi-Van continue. For now, expect the normal operating schedules for TheBus and The Handi-Van to continue to run normally despite the ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the Honolulu’s Department of Transportation Services announced Friday. City officials said contingency plans are being made if that changes and that the public would be given notice directly and through media.
UH Sports Teams return. Even as the University of Hawai‘i announced it had suspended sporting events for the rest of the current season, several teams of athletes and staff were already on the Mainland, including five divers and two coaches from the men’s swim team in Federal Way, Washington state, an area hard-hit by community spread. University spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said the others were: men’s golf, Tucson, Arizona; beach volleyball, Deland, Florida; men’s volleyball, Northridge, California; women’s water polo, San Diego, California; men’s and women’s basketball, Anaheim, California. Asked if there are any recommended periods of self-isolation for those returning from areas of reported community spread, Meisenzahl responded: “There have been no official recommendations for travel to and from Seattle because there are no travel restrictions currently in the United States. UH, as a state agency, cannot request additional requirements beyond what travelers are being told at their point of arrival.”
Friday, March 13 Update:
More testing and tents. More widespread COVID-19 testing begins. Hilton Raethel, president of the Hawai‘i Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i, said that more of the state’s private labs will be offering COVID-19 testing to patients with a doctor’s referral, but the turnaround time for results will take 3-4 days because the swab samples are being sent to the Mainland for analysis. Raethel said within one to two weeks, he expects that to drop to a 24-hour wait for results as the analysis can be done in the Islands. Honolulu drivers can see bright yellow-and-white tents along Punchbowl Street that are part of The Queen’s Medical Center disaster response preparedness measures (above). The “triage tents” are being used to test patients referred by doctors for COVID-19 while keeping them separate from other emergency room patients.
Dock trouble? Don’t believe rumors. “All of the commercial harbors in the state are open and all of the shipping and cargo companies continue to operate normally,” said state transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara. He was aiming to squash persistent rumors that the state’s harbors and/or Matson Navigation Co. operations were about to be disrupted. “Don’t believe your uncle’s roomate’s girlfriend who happened to hear something on the other line,’ he said. Matson also sent a statement saying the company 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.
Small groups and social distance. State health director Bruce Anderson is recommending postponing or canceling large, crowded gatherings or public events that include 100 people or more. These include concerts, conferences, professional, college and school sporting events. The Department of Health is recommending people practice social distancing that places them no fewer than two-arms-length or six feet apart. Anderson says he expects proms and graduations might be canceled but says health officials are not recommending closing public schools at this time. State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park says the state’s community surveillance of people who have reported mild to moderate cases of respiratory illness will likely uncover cases that haven’t yet been detected. And Park says that information about less severe cases could help the medical teams understand more about the disease, how it spreads, who is recovering and how to treat it, locally and globally.
Hawaiian Airlines cuts back. The Honolulu-based international carrier announced it is reducing the numbers of flights flown across its schedule.It will reduce Hawaiian’s capacity by 8-10 percent in April and 15-20 percent in May, to align with the drop in demand. Schedule changes will be introduced over the next week. Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram called the situation the company’s greatest challenge in many years today in a letter to employees today. “We know this will not be our new normal, but we can’t know when health experts and community mitigation efforts will bring the spread of the virus under control—or when travel apprehension will fade,” Ingram wrote.
LATEST HAWAI‘I LAB TEST RESULTS:
The state Health Department testing update as of 3 p.m. Friday, March 13: two presumptive positives, seven people tested with results pending, 45 people tested negative, 27 people self-monitoring with health department supervision and no one currently in quarantine. Of the 27 individuals self-monitoring with public health supervision, 24 are on O‘ahu and three are on Maui. These numbers shift often as travelers arrive, depart, begin and end their self-monitoring, according to state health officials.
At 5 p.m. Friday, March 13, the state Health Department revealed its first results of community tests of people with mild or moderate respiratory illness. In this first week, that 31 samples were tested and all were negative for COVID-19. Officials expect to see that capacity rise to about 200 community tests each week to help detect any other cases of COVID-19.
Make an appointment. The city announced today that Honolulu’s Department of Customer Services it will be operating under an appointment-only system for renewing driver licenses and state identification cards, starting Monday, March 16. There will be no changes made to satellite operations that process other transactions.
Prison visits suspended. Beginning today, March 13, the state Department of Public Safety suspended state prison inmate personal visits until further notice. Department Director Nolan Espinda said the action does not affect other scheduled official and attorney visits. “We understand how important visits are to the inmates as well as their family members, but we also understand that COVID-19 may eventually be present at one of our facilities and that is why, out of an abundance of caution, we are suspending personal visits at our facilities statewide,” Espinda said in a statement. “The health and safety of the public, our staff and the inmates they oversee is of paramount importance to us, and we are taking steps to protect them.” When Italy’s outbreak became widespread, the prisons there also ended personal visits, which triggered revolts and escapes.
Thursday, March 12 Update:
On Thursday, the University of Hawai‘i announced all classes will move to online as of March 23 and all UH spring athletic sporting events are suspended immediately and indefinitely. The 10-campus UH system will move from online courses beginning Monday, March 23, with classes now scheduled to resume in-person on Monday, April 13, according to UH President David Lassner. Lassner said there are no known cases directly linked to UH that prompted the move to digital classes starting on what would have been the first day of instruction after next week’s spring break. He said the university has been preparing for the possibility of switching to online courses for weeks and believes it has the logistics in place to still teach and support students. “We’re not sending students home,” he emphasized, although most spring athletic events were canceled immediately. “Our dorms will be open, our libraries will be open, our labs will be open, the Warrior rec center will be open, there will be food available on campus,” Lassner said. “We know a lot of our students have nowhere else to go during a semester.” The April 13 date to resume was chosen as a halfway point between now and the scheduled end of instruction for this semester, Lassner said at a news conference on Thursday, March 12. “We are really committed to help all of our students complete the semester particularly who are on track to graduate in the spring,” he said, although he was not ready to say when a call would be made on whether or not to hold a graduation ceremony. “We’ll be assessing constantly,” Lassner said, but the UH will hold no public events of more than 100 people. ”We believe we are looking at a pretty dark time as a nation and as a globe right now,” Lassner said. “But we do believe we can come through this together stronger.” Officials say season ticket holders for baseball and men's volleyball will receive a prorated refund for all impacted games.
The Merrie Monarch Festival and Kamehameha Schools Song Contest join the list of events canceled.
Chaminade University plans for online classes later this month. Chaminade University announced it will continue with on-campus classes through next week, followed by spring break and then a two-week period of online classes. The private Honolulu said it will continue to assess the situation and determine whether or not in-person classes can safely resume. “I can assure you that this decision was not made lightly and that your Chaminade leadership has taken into consideration the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” according to a school statement. “We are confident that in adopting these proactive measures, we can reduce the potential transmission and spread of the virus through social distancing and other recommended measures.” The school currently has scheduled online instruction to conclude April 10 and on-campus classes to resume, April 13. The rest of the campus is expected to continue all support services, includes counseling, student life, advising and career development, business, residence halls and dining facilities (outside of spring break).
BYU-Hawai‘i going online after announcing March 12 it will begin teaching all classes remotely on Wednesday, March 18. Classes are canceled on March 13, 16, and 17 to allow faculty members to prepare their lessons for a remote learning environment. The school said courses that may not reasonably be conducted remotely, such as labs or performance-based courses, will receive specific instructions. Students do have the choice to remain in the Lāi‘e area for the rest of this semester, where services, small-group activities, and approved student housing will continue to be available. Students who choose to go off-island may complete their courses remotely. BYUH also canceled in-person devotional services for the rest of this winter semester in favor of online delivery and immediately canceled all gatherings for performances, concerts, public lectures and conferences until further notice including Culture Night and Winter 2020 Commencement. All university-sponsored travel has been suspended until further notice. This includes all international and domestic travel.
Hawai‘i Pacific University has told students it will update them each day if there is a move to online classes.President John Gotanda sent a letter to students: “Some of you have expressed concern that HPU might one day surprise you and send you packing. We will not do that.” Gotanda said there will be no university group travel for the rest of this semester unless there is a change in the recommendation from the Hawai‘i Department of Health. He added that HPU will forego events that involve large gatherings of 100 or more people but at this point is still planning on a traditional commencement ceremony in May at Aloha Tower.
Limited Europe flights to begin. The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation confirmed there are no direct, incoming flights from Europe to the U.S. The 30-day federal ban on flights from Europe except the United Kingdom begins Friday, March 13, at midnight.
Latest Hawai‘i Lab Test Results:
The state Health Department testing update as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 12: two presumptive positives, 2 people tested with results pending, 28 people tested negative, 39 people self-monitoring with health department supervision and no one currently in quarantine.
The state Health Department will also ramp up random community tests of people with respiratory illness. In this first week, that number may be around 60 but is expected to increase to a capacity of about 200 community tests each week.
Of the 39 individuals self-monitoring with public health supervision, 34 are on O‘ahu, 4 are on Maui, and 1 is on Kaua‘i. These numbers shift often as travelers arrive, depart, begin and end their self-monitoring, according to state health officials.
Air travel change: Beginning tomorrow, at midnight on March 13, state transportation officials confirmed there will be no direct, incoming flights from Europe except the United Kingdom to the U.S. as a result of the 30-day federal ban on flights announced by the President.
Called for jury duty? Read this first. The Hawai‘i State Judiciary is asking any potential juror who received a summons to appear to review guidelines before showing up at court. The court asks anyone who has a fever, cough, or other respiratory symptoms; or has returned to Hawai‘i within the last 14 days after traveling internationally; or who has COVID-19 or has been in close contact with a person who has or is suspected of having COVID-19 to call the court to reschedule their jury service. Also, anyone who is at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 is asked to call the Jury Pool Office, including people who are 60 and older; have underlying health conditions, including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes; have weakened immune systems; or are pregnant.
Aloha United Way has extended its public 211 information call center hours to 7 a.m.–10 p.m., 7 days a week for general information or questions about COVID-19:
Call 2-1-1 from any location in the state
Text (877) 275-6569
Wednesday, March 11 Update:
The Hawai‘i state numbers update as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 11: two presumptive positives, 6 people tested with results pending, 23 people tested negative, 41 people self-monitoring and no one in quarantine, according to state health officials.
Ward Village announced that it is postponing all community events for now. This includes the upcoming Mom Made Market, cinema, fitness and yoga in the park.
The state Department of Education is canceling all school and DOE-related Mainland and international trips, effective Thursday, March 12 through the end of the year. Interisland travel can continue. See the letter from superintendent Christina Kishimoto here. Some private schools earlier this month canceled out-of-state trips planned for the rest of the academic year.
The state Health Department has temporarily suspended tours to Kalaupapa National Historical Park until April 11, 2020 as a public health measure to protect the vulnerable population of the Hansen’s disease (leprosy) patients.
Tuesday, March 10 Update:
Gov. David Ige joined state health officials in announcing a major expansion of testing for the novel coronavirus to both private labs and a statewide surveillance program aimed at detecting any community spread of the disease by randomly checking samples collected statewide from people complaining of illness.
Ige said the state can use the framework of the existing flu surveillance program to randomly select samples from patients with respiratory symptoms to test for COVID-19 statewide which would flag any undetected clusters of case. The governor also noted testing capability within the state became available last week. He said a Maui man who had complained that he was refused testing Feb. 1 after showing symptoms that followed travel to Singapore would now be tested by the state. Prior to last week, the testing would have had to go through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And the governor said that the state will continue to report testing results and is not downplaying tests or risks because of potential harm to the state’s visitor industry: “I can assure you that we will report the information as we collect it.”
State health director Bruce Anderson said the new random testing will add another level of understanding the virus and how it is spreading. “It will help us focus our prevention and response efforts so that we can keep our communities safe and informed about how the virus is affecting our state,” Anderson said.
The Heath Department is encouraging people with general questions about coronavirus to call 211 or text (877) 275-6569. For the latest information on COVID-19 in Hawaii, visit hawaii.gov/covid19. For national information and resources, go to coronavirus.gov.
Sunday, March 8 Update:
A second presumptive case of COVID-19 has been found in Hawai‘i. An elderly man who visited Washington felt sick on March 2. He returned to Hawai‘i on March 4, went to urgent care then was released. His illness worsened and an ambulance took him to the hospital on March 7. The DOH was notified about it Saturday. He is in the hospital in isolation in serious condition. The DOH could not say if he had underlying medical conditions.
The state DOH is determining who the second man may have been in contact with in both Hawai‘i and Washington for monitoring. State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park says those most at risk would be anyone who had face-to-face interaction with a person for a significant amount of time. “If you just walked past someone, that is not really the risk we are looking for,” she said in a press conference. Park says the CDC looks for people sitting in the same row and potentially two rows in front and two rows behind the person. State health director Bruce Anderson says they do not know of anyone who experienced this in the Islands, and that would typically include family.
The man did have symptoms before he boarded a plane. Anderson says that it appears people are most infectious when they show symptoms. The first case, a man who was on a cruise and flew home from Mexico, did not develop symptoms until after he arrived in Hawai‘i.
These cases are considered presumptive right now. Positive results are sent to the CDC in Atlanta for confirmation which takes a few days.
Gov. Ige says there are weekly conference calls with Vice President Mike Pence and all the governors about the evolving situation.
Friday, March 6 Update:
Today, Gov. David Ige and the state Department of Health announced a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise ship is Hawai‘i’s first confirmed case of COVID-19.
The passenger got off the boat in Mexico, returned home and felt sick. Tests here came back positive for COVID-19. Health experts believe he contracted the virus on the cruise, not in the Islands.
The man is recovering at home and appears to be doing well. The DOH says he did not have close contact with anyone after he got sick.
The Grand Princess is still anchored offshore of San Francisco. It did stop in Nāwiliwili on Kaua‘i, Honolulu on O‘ahu, Lahaina on Maui and Hilo on the Big Island in February. The DOH has the passenger manifest and is reaching out to anyone who may have had contact with the man so they can self-quarantine. As many as four Hawai‘i residents may have been onboard.
The DOH is planning to test some people who have reported respiratory problems to ensure it is not COVID-19. The department has the capability of testing 250 a week, if needed. State health director Bruce Anderson says any requests for testing must go through primary care physicians.
Wednesday, March 4 Update:
Six people tested in Hawai‘i for COVID-19 all tested negative. There are no confirmed cases in the Islands.
The CDC is investigating another cruise chip linked to COVID-19 that docked for a few days in Hawai‘i. Two passengers on the Grand Princess during a cruise to Mexico were confirmed with the virus after deboarding in California. The Grand Princess sailed from San Francisco to Hawai‘i and docked here from Feb. 26–29. A crew member who was ill tested negative during that stopover. The CDC and DOH are determining if there is any potential health threat.
The Hawai‘i DOH is capable of running tests with results available 24 to 48 hours after the sample is collected.
Gov. David Ige along with all the county mayors declared a public health emergency proclamation for COVID-19. It means that if action is needed to contain or prevent an outbreak, emergency officials will be able to move quickly.
Tuesday, March 3 Update:
Hawai‘i’s Department of Health now has the capability to test for COVID-19. According to a March 3 press conference, six people in the Islands have been tested. Results for two have come back negative. Three are still pending.
There are no confirmed cases in Hawai‘i as of today, March 3.
The Honolulu Festival canceled this weekend’s events. Mariah Carey will postpone her concert until the winter and the Festival of Pacific Arts, which was supposed to be hosted by Hawai‘i for the first time in June, was postponed.
On March 3, the state Senate approved Senate Bill 75, which would appropriate about $10 million out of the general fund for Novel Coronavirus 2019 prevention, detection and containment. Of that money, $6.6 million would go to the DOH, $2,788,750 million to the Department of Transportation and $1,180,000 to the Department of Defense. The state House approved a resolution to form a House committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness. Under the resolution, Speaker of the House Scott Saiki would appoint a chair and members.
The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 3 travel warning to avoid nonessential travel to South Korea and Italy after reports of more than 6,800 cases and 80 deaths. China is at a Level 4, meaning people should not travel there.
Monday, March 2 Update:
Japan has ordered all elementary, junior high and high schools nationwide to close from Monday through spring break, which typically ends in early April. And Japan is now considered a Level 2 by the U.S. State Department, urging travelers exercise increased caution.
The incubation period ended for anyone who might have been in contact with a man and his wife who visited Hawai‘i from Japan that were diagnosed with COVID-19 after they returned to Japan. Feb. 20 was the last day people would be expected to show symptoms. State Health Director Bruce Anderson says the Japanese visitors were in the Islands for 11 days—on Maui from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, then on O‘ahu from Feb. 3 to 7—at the Grand Waikīkīan Hawai‘i Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare, which has been notified, and it’s likely the couple was exposed in Japan or in transit to Hawai‘i, Anderson said, since the disease has an incubation period of roughly two to 14 days.
State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park says the man had no fever on Maui and coldlike symptoms on O‘ahu, which is encouraging as officials investigate if the disease has spread. She said the main concerns would be people who were in close contact during the 11 days. Park reminds everyone to wash hands, stay home when they are sick and minimize any risk.
After faulty test kits were sent to Hawai‘i and other state laboratories, new components were sent to Hawai‘i’s Department of Health, which estimates it will be able to do testing as early next week, the beginning of March. No samples from Hawai‘i have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory in Atlanta.
Thursday, Feb. 27 Update:
The number of cases of the new coronavirus continues to rise—more than 81,109 as of Feb. 27 with at least 2,761 deaths, most closest to the epicenter in China, causing a worldwide ripple effect of worry and soaring sales of masks, protective gear and even hand sanitizer.
Travel to and from China has been severely restricted with all direct flights suspended between China and Honolulu. Lt. Gov. Josh Green explained that the resident, traveling alone who just entered mandatory quarantine, traveled from Hubei and other regions in China, then to another country and flew from an unidentified country to Honolulu. Anderson says the person was flagged properly by the system, which is designed to protect the community by being cautious even for people without symptoms. Park says the traveler has no symptoms, which officials believe means the risk to be “very low” to other passengers or flight crew on the plane.
The state Health Department says some people in Hawai‘i who traveled within the past 14 days to China are self-monitoring at home. Spokeswoman Janice Okubo says these people do not have symptoms and are being monitored in case they become sick but pose no imminent health risk. “They are not under mandatory quarantine because they do not have any symptoms and did not travel from Hubei Province,” Okubo says. State health officials say the number of people rose to 80 as of Feb. 27 and will continue to shift as travelers reach the end of recommended monitoring and return home here and to other states and countries.
Federal officials notified the Hawai‘i Department of Health that two asylum seekers from China arrived at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport before the mandatory quarantine took effect on Sunday, Feb. 9. They were taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. State Rep. Gene Ward first announced the news in a tweet on Feb. 4. A spokeswoman for the health department says the two individuals are being held at the federal detention center and present no risk to the public.
On Feb. 11, the World Health Organization named the disease COVID-19, avoiding any mention of the place, people or animals at the epicenter of the disease.
The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. rose to 15.
Federal officials have designated the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport as an airport that can receive flights from affected areas because it has airport quarantine capabilities.
Okubo also confirmed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s public health laboratory in Atlanta currently conducts the only testing in the nation for the 2019 novel coronavirus. The Doctors of Waikīkī clinic is offering and promoting private coronavirus testing. But, Okubo says, “All other claims in Hawai‘i for screening and testing for the virus are not legitimate.” Okubo said the CDC is shipping laboratory test kits to the state Health Department here, which could be used to conduct testing should patients meet the criteria.
About $100,000 worth of protective masks and clothing was sent from Honolulu by private business officials with the Hawai‘i Fujian Business Association. The association leaders, including L & L Hawaiian Barbecue founder Eddie Flores, shipped the supplies along with a message of support from Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell to Fuzhou city, in Fujian province, an area of China that’s been affected but not at the epicenter.