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Hawaii Updates: 24 New COVID Cases Today; July 4 Flotilla Attendees Face Arrest

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AP Photo/Eugene Tanner
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FILE -- Because of COVID-19, there won't be a fireworks show this year such as one that lit up the skies in 2011 off Magic Island.

Updated: 7/4/2020, 12:09 p.m.

State health officials today reported 24 new COVID-19 cases following yesterday's 29 new cases as Hawaii continues to reverse what had been until recent weeks single-digit increases. Hawaii is now on the cusp of a thousand coronavirus cases with a total of 999.

Of the new cases, 19 came from Oahu, 1 on Maui and two each from Hawaii Island and Kauai. Oahu's case count now stands at 720, Maui County's at 128, Hawaii County's at 93 and Kauai County's at 40. A total of 18 residents were diagnosed outside of Hawaii. One-hundred eighteen people have been hospitalized and 756 have been released from isolation.

The latest death announced yesterday was an elderly Oahu woman with underlying health conditions, according to officials, bringing the death count to 19.

Yesterday's Oahu cases were far-flung, with locations in Honolulu, Kailua, Mililani, Pearl City, Wahiawa, Waialua, Waianae, Kaneohe, Waimanalo and Waipahu.  The dispersal signals that the virus has spread widely on Oahu and is no longer confined to a few communities.

Officials urged extra caution during the July 4th holiday weekend. They advised that people stay at home among those in their household and, if they go out, to wear face masks and socially distance.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Thursday amended the city's COVID-19 emergency order and mandated face coverings indoors and outdoors in some cases.

State Health Director Bruce Anderson told KITV there are now nine positive cases tied to the Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant training. The health department is also monitoring another cluster of cases  involving people who gathered and shared food at a potluck.

Anderson also said he recently signed an agreement with CVS for pre-flight testing as the state gears up to allow broader tourism on Aug. 1. Visitors who can show a negative result from a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their flight would be spared the 14-day self-quarantine required for all arrivals.

Meanwhile, the count of positive cases among residents at the Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center increased by one this week. The state's largest skilled nursing facility now has 12 residents who have tested positive, seven of whom have been hospitalized, according to Hale Nani's website. Six staff members have also tested positive.

East Oahu flotilla organizers, attendees face arrest

State authorities have threatened to arrest organizers and participants in a planned July 4th flotilla at an East Oahu beach for violation of COVID-19 emergency orders and rules.

Gatherings of large groups of people are prohibited and no marine permits had been issued for the event. Violations of the emergency orders are misdemeanors punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and a year in jail.

Several hundred people had made reservations for the event, which was promoted on social media, the state said in a news release. Given the spike in new coronavirus cases yesterday, authorities called the flotilla "extremely irresponsible."

State Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers will patrol the area and other law enforcement and public safety agencies have been alerted about the event.

“These types of illegal flotilla events divert law enforcement and emergency response resources unnecessarily," said DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla. We take this information seriously and enforcement action will be taken if necessary.”

Visitor arrivals approach 950 on Thursday

Despite the 14-day mandatory quarantine imposed on all passengers arriving in the islands, visitor counts have been rising. On Thursday, 937 visitors came to the state and 704 residents returned hone.

Others among the 2,813 arrivals included 226 crew members, 126 transiting travelers, 528 military, 72 passengers exempt from quarantine, and 220 who say they are relocating to Hawaii.

This is a developing story. Please check back for upates. Editor's note: We’d like to hear how you’re coping with the latest COVID-19 developments and the state's phased reopening. You can call our talkback line at 808-792-8217. Or e-mail us at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.

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