Hawaii Updates: What We're Learning About Coronavirus Today
The news on the Hawaii front of the coronavirus battle is swiftly changing. Here are the live updates on local health, economic and societal impacts from the spread of COVID-19.
Where Hawaii stands
As of Monday morning, Hawaii had identified two presumptive positive cases of coronavirus. One elderly man in his 90s returned from Washington state, went to an urgent care clinic, returned home and then was taken to a hospital by ambulance on Saturday. He tested positive and remains at Kaiser Permanente's Moanalua hospital in isolation and in serious condition.
The first Hawaii case announced Friday involves an adult man who was a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise ship when on its Mexico tour. He returned home on Oahu, became ill, and was tested positive for the coronavirus. His symptoms were described as mild and moderate and he is home quarantined while monitored by the state health department and Kaiser Permanente.
There have been 17 individuals in Hawaii tested for COVID-19 as of Sunday. The DOH State Laboratories Division and Tripler Army Medical Center are currently testing for the virus but private labs are expected to begin testing in coming days, addressing concerns that there weren't enough tests being allowed and conducted locally.
Lieutenant governor calls for temporary cruise ship ban
Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green called Monday for a 60-day pause in cruise ship tours to Hawaii while the coronavirus epidemic spreads throughout the United States.
Green made his comments at a press conference hosted by Kokua Council, a nonprofit that works with the elderly.
"It's time that we actually pause the cruise ships and certainly the cruise ships should not allow anyone, anyone to disembark if they have the smallest symptoms," he said.
Concerns about cruise ships are growing after two Princess vessels emerged as breeding grounds for COVID-19. The Grand Princess is docking in Oakland Monday after about 20 passengers and crew members were tested positive for the illness. The ship had visited the islands in late February.
Hawaii's first coronavirus case is a man who had taken the Grand Princess on an earlier tour of Mexico. Several people fell ill from that tour and one person has died.
Merrie Monarch still on for now, though one troupe cancels attendance
An 80-person hula troupe from Japan has canceled its performance set for Wednesday, H?‘ike Night, of the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo.
The festival is set for April 12-18, this year. All other groups and h?lau are planning to perform, according to Merrie Monarch President Luana Kawelu.
Kawelu says precautions are being taken and the state health department will guide any future developments regarding the festival, Hilo’s largest annual event.
The Naniloa Hotel, is reporting no cancelations during the Merrie Monarch booking period. But the hotel does have Japanese groups scheduled to arrive.
Organizations big and small have been canceling their events because of coronavirus concerns, among them the Honolulu Festival and FESTPAC.
Hawai'i Meals On Wheels prepare for outbreak
Lanakila Pacific's senior meals program says it is taking precautions to keep its volunteers and staff safe in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
"While we do not anticipate disruption of services at this time, we have developed a staff-only delivery and work from home plan if needed," the organization said in a statement.
Like the general public, the program noted it is having difficulty finding antibacterial items given limited supplies and are attempting to find sources for the items.
House speaker sets first meeting of special coronavirus committee
A special committee to prepare Hawaii for the economic fallout from the spreading coronavirus epidemic holds its first meeting this week, House Speaker Scott Saiki announced Monday.
Peter Ho, Bank of Hawaii CEO and president, will co-chair the Select House Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness with Saiki.
A long list of business and legislative leaders have been named to the committee, which will be exploring how to prepare economically and financially for the coronavirus epidemic.
Saiki told HPR last week that the Great Recession dealt a financial blow to the government and had ripple effects across the state.
“The state lost $2.1 billion in tax revenue over three years and instituted furlough Fridays, that affected all of the public school students,” Saiki recalled.
The special committee will meet Thursday at 10 a.m. in state Capitol Room 329.
Center for Pacific Studies cancels events
The University of Hawaii's Center for Pacific Islands Studies is canceling its 8th annual student conference scheduled for March 13-14. The center also canceled its spring Pacific Speakers Series "as well as other large gatherings," the center said.
"CPIS regrets any inconvenience this may cause; however, the Center feels that given the situation, it is socially and morally responsible to act with an abundance of caution in asking our community to travel and participate in gatherings during this time," the center said in a statement.
The university has issued guidance to instructors if they need to teach from home during an emergency. But unlike more than 20 other U.S. colleges, UH has not canceled in-person classes due to coronavirus.
This is a developing story. Please return for updates.