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Hawaii Updates: Cases Climb to 151; DOH Warns Against Anti-Malaria Drugs; More Screenings Scheduled

Hawaii's coronavirus case count now stands at 151, according to the state health department's latest update. The number of positive and presumptive positive cases represents an increase of 29 from Friday. One of the new cases is a minor. Oahu now has a total of 108 coronavirus cases, Maui 16, Kauai 11 and the Big Island 10. 

 

Four cases are pending results and two residents were diagnosed out of state. Twelve of the total cases have required hospitalization. There are no locally reported fatalities from COVID-19.

Most of the cases thus far have involved travel. But according to Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami in his daily video message, his county is the only one that does not have cases indicating community spread.

Health Department: Anti-malaria drugs can be harmful

The state Department of Health issued a warning about the dangers of using anti-malaria drugs like hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for COVID-19.

The department said the drugs can "cause severe cardiac toxicity, and in high doses over a long duration, can cause retinal damage and lead to permanent blindness," said Dr. Alvin Bronstein, DOH Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System branch chief.

He said nothing has been proven to be effective in treating COVID-19 and medications touted as treatments may do more harm than good.

Anyone who has taken either drug and is experiencing adverse reactions should call the Hawaii poison center at 808-222-1222 or seek immediate medical help.

DOE seeks graduation modifications

The Hawaii Department of Education wants to waive graduation requirements for high school seniors in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The state Board of Education must approve the department’s request.

"Our request to the board for a one-time policy waiver is a critical step in our efforts to adjust the remainder of the school year of our public and charter schools," Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said.

"Once we’ve received approval from the board we can formal issue the guidance for the issued graduation requirements that has been developed."

In a memo to the board, the DOE worried that enforcing graduation requirements would impact college acceptances and military and career opportunities for seniors.

See yesterday's updates: Passenger arrivals plunge, State plans for inmate release

There are about 10,000 seniors in Hawaii public schools.

As earlier announced, DOE classes will not be held in person until at least April 30.

Some schools have begun distance learning with written materials and online resources. But this work will not be graded.

The board is taking up the graduation waiver request on Thursday.

The DOE will decide by April 15 if there will be graduation ceremonies this year.

Weekend coronavirus screenings scheduled

Two more drive-through COVID-19 screening events are scheduled this weekend -- today at the Waipi?o Peninsula Soccer Complex and tomorrow in the Kaka?ako Waterfront Park parking lot. Those tested must have symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath.

Premier Medical Group Hawai?i and the city will again put on the screenings. Their first drive-through screening in Kaka?ako Waterfront Park drew hundreds of vehicles with long waits.

Both screenings will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Those seeking tests will first be screened for symptoms and asked to provide personal information, including contact numbers, so that results can be forwarded to them. 

Dr. Scott Miscovich of Premier Medical said he hopes to run the screenings through April. Results will be used to identify "hot spots" in the effort to contain COVID-19.

More information is available by calling (808) 304-8816 or (808) 367-6020.

On the Big Island, there will be two drive-through screening sites.

In Kona, the screening and testing will be offered by Premier Medical Group and Ali’i Health Center today from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. 

In Hilo, Premier Medical Group and Bay Clinic, with the support of the county will offer the screening at Ho`olulu Complex tomorrow from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. 

For both Big Island testing clinics, no doctor’s order is needed, but individuals will be screened to see if they meet the testing criteria for testing.

City details plans for Iwilei homeless isolation center

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell unveiled more information yesterday on a center to help the city’s homeless deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The focus is a building that the city recently purchased on Kaaahi Street in Iwilei.

Caldwell said the city-owned building will be turned into a medical triage and quarantine center.

“It’s vacant right now, some day it’s going to be filled with other needs. But right now it’s going to be a place where they’re going to do testing and quarantine of those most at risk, our homeless population," the major said.

The city will pay for sewer, water and electricity. Doctors working with teams who regularly serve the homeless community will go to shelters and screen potential patients showing symptoms of the coronavirus.

 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

 

Editor's note: We’d like to hear how you’re coping with the latest developments in dealing with the spread of the coronavirus. You can call our talkback line at 808-792-8217. Or e-mail us at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.

 

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