What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus in Hawai‘i Today: March 27, 2020

Two more free testing sites will open this weekend, the YMCA offers childcare to essential workers and the bus changes its weekday schedule.

Friday, March 27 update:

Leeward YMCA exterior
the leeward ymca in waipahu is one location now offering childcare for workers categorized as essential by the state.
photo: aaron k. yoshino


The number of people with COVID-19 hit 120 statewide. Of the 14 new cases, 10 are in Honolulu, bringing the county’s total to 87. The Big Island and Maui County both reported two new cases. Three cases are pending. To date, there have been 5,800 tests conducted.


The bus will change to the state holiday schedule Monday through Friday starting April 1. Saturday and Sunday schedules will remain the same. See thebus.org for specific route information. Handi-Vans will still operate by-reservation during normal hours.  


Two more drive-thru testing sites will open this weekend. On Saturday, March 28, it will be at the Waipʻio Soccer Complex from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday, March 29, at Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park during the same hours. Medical teams will only test people experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath. Others may be turned away.


Three YMCA branches will offer childcare for workers deemed essential by the state starting Monday, March 30. For $55 a day, the care will be available at the Leeward, Nu‘uanu and Windward YMCAs from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. during the week. All kids and staff will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 every day and kept in groups of nine or less, in compliance with DOH guidelines. Go to ymcahonolulu.org to apply. The YMCA is also providing free meals for kid who need it. Find more details on honolulufamily.com.


New mobile testing for the homeless will begin immediately because of a grant awarded to Hawai‘i’s Homeless Healthcare Hui. It will focus on encampments, locations with large homeless populations and homeless shelters. The hui also plans to open and manage a medical triage and quarantine center in Iwilei early next week to treat people experiencing symptoms or have tested positive of COVID-19.


Nine of the city’s community gardens will be open again to the public from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The site at Foster Botanical Garden will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and on weekends from 9 a.m. to noon. The city still asks people to keep social distancing keep to groups fewer than ten people. 


Chaminade University will extend its application deadline to August 1. University of Hawaiʻi extended its application deadline for UH Mānoa, UH Hilo and UH West Oʻahu earlier this week.

Stacey Makiya


Thursday, March 26 update: 

gov ige
Gov. David Ige at the COVID-19 Daily News Briefing on March 26, 2020
Photo: Dan Dennison (State of Hawaii)


Eleven new cases bring the statewide total to 106. Eight of those are in Honolulu, bringing the county’s total to 77; one new case in Maui County brings its total to 14; and Hawai‘i and Kaua‘i counties have remained steady at five cases each. Three cases are pending. Two Hawai‘i residents currently outside of the state have also been confirmed to have COVID-19, so they’re not included in the totals above. Seven people needed hospitalization, all but one has been released. 


Almost 5,000 people have been tested. Most tests have been done by private labs, and though there has been a delay in getting results when they’re sent off to the Mainland, Department of Health director Bruce Anderson says some of the labs plan to do local analysis soon for a quicker turn. 


Alternate care facilities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week began evaluating alternate sites for potential patients, COVID-19 or otherwise, if the need arises. The Hawai‘i Convention Center has been identified as a potential site on O‘ahu. 


Arrivals are down 87% from last year on the first day of required quarantine for travelers. The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority is working with the state to alert hotels and periodically check on arrivals, as well as returning residents, to make sure they are staying in place for the required 14-day quarantine. The only exception would be to seek a medical appointment—even food must be delivered. Some recent flights contained fewer than 10 passengers. 


Farm to Car launches next week. The Hawai‘i Farm Bureau has partnered with the city to create an online shop for local produce. Users select from more than 200 local products, pay online, then pick up their order on Wednesdays outside the Blaisdell on Ward Avenue starting April 1. There is no charge to farmers and ranchers to participate: call (808) 848-2074 to find out how. hfbf.org/farm-to-car


Stimulus in the works. Yesterday the U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion economic stimulus package. The House will vote tomorrow. Gov. David Ige says he’s working with our congressional delegates for details on how this package will help Hawai‘i. 

Katrina Valcourt 


Wednesday, March 25 update:

Six new cases bring the statewide total to 95. Four are O‘ahu residents, one is on Maui and the last is a visitor on Kaua‘i. So far, 4,658 people have been tested in Hawai‘i. Of the four people who required hospitalization, all but one have been released. The remaining 91 cases are recovering at home. 


The state says Hawai‘i’s first reported death from COVID-19 was actually a misreading. Initial tests had indicated that an elderly O‘ahu resident died from complications related to the virus. The DOH says a second test came out negative and it appears the initial results were misinterpreted.  


The University of Hawai‘i will extend the deadline to apply for admissions to Aug. 1 for UH Mānoa, UH West O‘ahu and UH Hilo. 


The Hawaiian Homes Commission has approved the deferral of mortgage payments for Department of Hawaiian Homelands direct loans, starting in April for a period of six months. People with mortgages with private institutions should check with their lenders. 


Governor Ige’s statewide stay-at-home, work-at-home order went into effect at 12:01 Wednesday morning and will last until April 30. Essential workers, such as health care professionals and public health workers are exempt. You are allowed to leave your home for health care services; to buy food, medicine and gas; to care for elderly, children and those with disabilities; and to exercise outdoors, as long as social distancing guidelines are followed. 


Hawai‘i Department of Human Services will continue essential services, but will be scaling back staff and is requesting people call with requests. The DHS will continue operating SNAP, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, childcare facilities and homes, Med-QUEST, domestic violence shelters, child welfare services, homeless shelters and outreach programs. HDHS EBT cards will no longer be available for pick up and will be mailed to recipients—first-time applicants can fill out an online application. The certification period for SNAP recipients requiring a 6-month review or an eligibility review during March, April and May will be extended an additional six months. Click here for the DHS website.


Various banks are consolidating operations. Starting Thursday, March 26, First Hawaiian Bank will scale back some hours and temporarily close locations. American Savings Bank will do the same on Saturday, March 28. Both are also offering kūpuna hours for seniors and those with health conditions for the first hour of business.  

Brie Thalmann


Tuesday, March 24 update:

hawaii public schools to close
Photo: Courtesy of Hawai‘i State Teachers Association


COVID-19 cases climb to 90 and Hawai‘i reported the first death this week from COVID-19, an elderly adult on O‘ahu, as the confirmed case count climbed to 90 in today’s update from the state’s joint information center. However, state health director Bruce Anderson said the man’s tests are being run again to double check after irregularities were found in the multistep procedure and results should be available later tonight. Anderson said the patient, who suffered from multiple underlying health conditions, was tested upon admission to a hospital, and died on March 20 before the results returned. When initial results at a commercial lab proved inconclusive, the state ran another test yesterday but today said they wanted an additional test before concluding the man had COVID-19. State health officials said he is likely to have been exposed through indirect travel. The state notes that about 80% of the cases have been Hawai‘i residents returning home from travel. The cases are spread across the state, with the most cases on O‘ahu, as expected as home to the largest population. Six people have required hospitalization, including two of the cases reported today. More than 4,000 people have been tested with no evidence that there is wide community spread of the disease, officials said.


Public schools closed to students through April 30. The Hawai‘i state Department of Education announced today school facilities will remain closed to students through April 30, keeping traditional, in-school instruction on hold. The department, along with charter schools, will send information about enrichment opportunities, including online resources and instructional packets. Families should look for information from their child’s school and teachers. Tips and tools gathered by the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design are also available for the public.


Grab-and-go meal services for students needing free or subsidized food is expanding. Nine additional sites will begin breakfast and lunch service tomorrow, Wednesday, March 25. Parents and caregivers who come to pick up a meal must be accompanied by a child. Meals will not be served Thursday, March 26, a state holiday. For the complete list of sites, click here


Most Honolulu city customer services are now online or suspended. In response to the stay-at-home orders, most in-person licensing and other services have been suspended, it was announced today, after extending the expiration date of driver licenses and state identification cards by 90 days. Now that the federal government announced postponement of the Oct. 1, 2020 date for the new REAL ID requirement, there is no urgency to renew at this time. Online options can be found at honolulu.gov.


City park bathroooms to open. Beginning tomorrow, March 25, Honolulu officials said restrooms at city parks will remain open for public use. But the city emphasized the importance of social distancing and limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 people.


Queen’s Health Systems ask for donated masks/gear. To build on existing supplies, The Queen’s Health Systems is asking the community for donations of personal protective equipment that includes goggles, face shields, masks and gowns but not homemade fabric masks at this time. Companies or individuals can drop off donations at these locations effective today: The Queen’s Medical Center – Punchbowl, front hospital lobby (valet area), 24/7. The Queen’s Medical Center – West O‘ahu, receiving loading dock (mauka of the hospital), 8 a.m.–2 p.m.


Cruise ships get fuel. State transportation officials announced that several cruise ships without passengers are being allowed to refuel at Honolulu Harbor. The Norwegian Jewel was allowed to have its passenger disembark and go directly to the airport. Other ships coming include the MS Regatta cruise ship, the Seven Seas Navigator and Seven Seas Marine, officials said. The crews will remain onboard. Cruise ships are on a 30-day pause for operations that began March 14 and are being relocated now so more may arrive with similar restrictions.

Robbie Dingeman


Monday, March 23 update:


Gov. David Ige issued a statewide lockdown this afternoon to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The order, which he says is necessary for “cohesion and consistency,” mandates that everyone in Hawai‘i shelter in place, effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday through April 30, barring exemptions. Employees exempted from the order include those working in health care, grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and other financial institutions, food production and farming, schools, restaurants offering takeout services, hotels and motels, construction and other essential government functions. Also, people are allowed to leave their homes for health care services; to buy food, medicine and gas; to care for the elderly, children and those with disabilities; and to exercise outdoors, as long as social distancing guidelines are followed.


The governor’s order comes at the heels of shelter-in-place mandates issued Sunday by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Maui Mayor Michael Victorino. O‘ahu residents can call (808) 768-2489 or email covidresponse@honolulu.gov for questions or to report potential violations. Ige says his staff is working with each county’s police department on enforcement.


The state total is now 77, up 21 since Sunday. That includes 12 new cases on O‘ahu, two each on Maui and the Big Island and five pending cases. No new cases were reported on Kaua‘i. One person has also been admitted to the hospital, bringing the total number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients to four statewide. The state says it expected to see more cases given the increased number of tests administered.


More than 3,300 tests have been given statewide so far, most of which has been done through private labs.


Ige’s quarantine order, issued Saturday, for all travelers to the Islands takes effect Thursday. This means that everyone arriving in Hawai‘i—visitors and residents—must self-quarantine for 14 days and can only leave their hotels or residences for medical emergencies or treatment. 


The state extended the deadline for 2019 individual and corporate income tax filings and payments from April 20 to July 20.

Jayna Omaye


Friday, March 20 update:

UH West Oahu Campus
UH West O‘ahu is one of the 10 UH campuses which is now closed to the public. Students and employees will still have access.
Photo: Courtesy of UH West O‘AHU


Two new cases are considered the first community spread of COVID-19 in the state. Both people live on O‘ahu, have not traveled and are not related or associated with each other. The state Department of Health also says one of today’s positive cases is a child.


The state total is now 37. The jump, 11 cases more than yesterday, was expected by some as private laboratories and the state increased the number of tests administered. O‘ahu continues to have the most positive tests in the state by far: 28, or 76% of the state total.


A drive-thru testing site will open at Kaka‘ako Waterfont Park on Saturday, March 21 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. People must have symptoms and either work in a job where they encounter a lot of people (tourism, health care, emergency response) or have traveled recently off island. Doctors will turn away people away who do not meet these requirements.


A group of caterers and food truck operators will deliver free meals to kūpuna. Mālama Meals COVID-19 Community Meal Program will visit various sites from Wahiawā and ‘Ewa Beach to Mānoa. Partners include Aloha Beer Co., Aloha Venues, Applebee’s, Blue Water Shrimp, Da Spot, IHOP and Olive Garden. Requests or donations can be made to malamameals.org.


UH is closing all 10 of its campuses to the public. Only existing students and employees, as well as emergency service personnel and contractors, will be allowed entrance. The dorms are still open. Online classes are slated to begin for UH students on Monday, March 23.


The Hawai‘i State DOE received approval to cancel federally required assessments for the rest of the year. The Hawai‘i Board of Education will discuss the federal waiver at its next telemeeting in April.


Honolulu will suspend all driver license road tests starting Monday, March 23. They will be rescheduled.


Girl Scouts officially canceled all cookie booth sales. You can buy online for delivery at gshawaii.org/cookies.

—Christi Young


Thursday, March 19 update:


A post shared by Daniel Dae Kim (@danieldaekim) on


State Sen. Clarence Nishihara and actor Daniel Dae Kim have tested positive for COVID-19. Nishihara, 76, had traveled to Las Vegas in February and received positive results while at work at the State Capitol. The Legislature has been shut down. Kim shot a TV show in New York City and began feeling ill on the flight home. Both are recovering in isolation at home.


Ten new cases on O‘ahu and Maui. The eight individuals on O‘ahu and two on Maui all either traveled or were in close contact with someone who did. It brings the total number to 26.


State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said 1,000 test samples were taken as private labs increased capacity. 


House speaker Scott Saiki wants the governor to take decisive action. Saiki sent a letter to Gov. David Ige calling the handling of the pandemic “utterly chaotic” and causing mass public confusion. He wrote: “To protect people and the long-term stability of our economy, I implore you to immediately order the shutdown and sheltering-in-place of all people in the state of Hawai‘i” for 15 days. He also requested travelers arriving in Hawai‘i be put in quarantine for 15 days. In response, Ige’s communications director said: “Gov. Ige continues to work through all the options, including their potential benefits and consequences, to secure our islands and do what’s best for our communities.”


Honolulu lifeguards leave towers. Lifeguards will continue patrolling in trucks and monitoring crowded beaches, the city says. Earlier, the city said the lifeguards lacked proper protective gear.


Hawaiian Air cuts flights. The Honolulu-based airline announced it will trim 40% of its flight schedule as the number of travelers drops.


Most traffic, criminal and civil cases are postponed through April 30. Most Oʻahu District Court cases should not report including:

  • Traffic cases for defendants not in custody;

  • Misdemeanor, petty misdemeanor and criminal violation cases for defendants who are not in custody;

  • Small claims cases;

  • Regular claims cases, including landlord-tenant cases;

  • Community Outreach Court cases.


The following will continue: temporary restraining order cases; misdemeanor, petty misdemeanor and criminal violation cases for defendants in custody of the Honolulu Police Department, the Department of Public Safety, and/or the Hawai‘i State Hospital; traffic cases for custody defendants; felony cases; and Driving While Impaired court cases.

Robbie Dingeman