The Latest: Weakened Douglas Moving Off But 'Not Out Of The Woods Yet'; 64 New Cases Today
Updated: 7/26/2020, 8:20 p.m.
Hurricane Douglas is moving past Oahu to the north and closer to Kauai County tonight but still with the potential to deliver strong winds and flooding. Oahu and Kauai County remain under a hurricane warning while the hurricane warning for Maui County has been canceled.
At 8 p.m. today, the National Weather Service forecasters said Douglas remains a category 1 hurricane, but expected to weaken on its current track. Last located at 60 miles north of Honolulu and 85 miles east of Lihue, the hurricane was moving west-northwest at 16 mph and with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.
National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Lau said people on Oahu should not let their guard down since the hurricane could still take a southerly jog. North Shore and Windward Oahu would be impacted first if that occurs, and other areas could be affected as well, depending on how southerly Douglas deviates from its track.
But for now, the hurricane remains to the north, weakened by a wind shear as it moves past Oahu and approaches Kauai County, which may still feel the hurricane's effects even if there is no direct hit.
Douglas could still drop heavy rains, between 5 to 10 inches, on Oahu and Kauai County. Higher terrain potentially could see strong downpours, producing flash flooding and landslides.
Large, life-threatening surf could still be seen tonight, but swells are expected to decline tomorrow; forecasters reduced the storm surge projection to about 2 feet.
There was a "razor thin" line -- 20 to 30 miles -- between the islands seeing major impacts and a miss, said Lau. "We were fairly lucky that the main Hawaiian Islands were pretty much in the southwest quadrant," he said, referring to a portion of the hurricane that was less of a threat.
Hawaii County and Maui County appear to have weathered the hurricane without major impacts, although heavy rainfall was reported on Molokai and parts of Maui.
Maui emergency shelters were closed after the county was in the clear.
Maui Mayor Michel Victorino said there was no major damage in the county, although there were reports of debris, fallen trees, downed telephone poles and downed power lines. The public can report any storm-related damage on the county website.
Maui County offices open tomorrow and county buses will operate but parks, pools and the Waiehu golf course will remain closed for assessment and safety precautions. Landfills and recycling centers will remain closed and residential curbside trash pickup for tomorrow will be rescheduled for Tuesday.
The Maui County-YMCA summer youth program resumes tomorrow at War Memorial Gym and Eddie Tam Gym. The South Maui Community Park Gym will remain closed for cleaning and sanitization since it was used as an emergency shelter.
It was a nerve-wracking day for many residents. Outdoor emergency sirens were sounded on Maui at 8:30 a.m. and on Oahu starting at 11 a.m., alerting residents to the approaching hurricane.
Residents scrambled to make last-minute preparations and cleared some stores of emergency items, all while trying to maintain face masks and social distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emergency shelters opened on Oahu and in Maui County. One of the largest, the Hawaii Convention Center, took in about 300 people, officials said. All were required to get their temperature checked, asked health questions and socially distanced to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Prepare to hunker down
Throughout the state, officials had urged residents to plan to stay at home during the hurricane. Many activities, including the city's Open Streets event in Waikiki scheduled for today, were canceled.
Tomorrow, state and city offices will be closed. The state Legislature also notified staff to remain at home.
Hawaiian Airlines canceled all flights today between the islands and the Mainland as well as interisland flights because of anticipated weather conditions. Passengers can change flights without fees and check their flight status at HawaiianAirlines.com/flight-status.
Matson is maintaining its West Coast sailing schedule and adjusting its vessel and barge schedule so cargo deliveries to the Neighbor Islands can resume once ports reopen. The U.S. Coast Guard closed Big island ports at 8 a.m. today, Maui ports at 8 p.m. today, Oahu ports at 2 a.m. tomorrow and Kauai ports at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
The city's TheBus and TheHandiVan services stopped service at noon today. If conditions allow, bus service will resume at 6 a.m. tomorrow.
City trash pick up and bulk item pickups are canceled for tomorrow. All refuse convenience centers, transfer stations and Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill will close today and tomorrow.
The city parks, zoo and all golf courses were closed today and will remain closed tomorrow.
Trump approves federal disaster declaration
President Trump had approved a federal disaster declaration in advance of Hurricane Douglas, making federal resources available for disaster preparation and response. County mayors issued emergency proclamations following Gov. David Ige declaration Thursday, allowing the state to respond quickly to impacts from Douglas.
Ige also said he was prepared to activate Hawaii National Guard, beyond those assigned for COVID-19 assistance, to help with any hurricane-related impacts.
Those abiding by the mandatory 14-day travel quarantine were told to remain in quarantine, Ige said. But if they needed supplies, they could break quarantine as a last resort, but maintaining social distance and other practices to reduce the risk of virus spread.
Shelters will be limited, COVID-challenged
Because of COVID-19 physical distancing requirements, emergency shelters could accommodate significantly fewer residents who need to be sheltered, the governor said.
The counties, which operate the shelters, urged residents and visitors to shelter in place or with friends or family and only use the shelters as a last resort if they needed to evacuate. Anyone going to a shelter, were told to bring their own food, water, medicine, blankets and COVID-19 supplies, such as face masks and hand sanitizer.
Shelter locations by counties:
Pets allowed at all locations but must be securely leased or caged.
* Hawaiian Humane Society staffed.
—Central - *Mililani HS, 95-1200 Meheula Pkway
—Central - Moanalua HS, 2825 Ala Ilima St.
—Central - Waialua H/I, 67-160 Farrington Hwy.
—Honolulu - *Hawaii Convention Center, 1801 Kalakaua Ave.
—Honolulu - Niu Valley MS, 310 Halemaumau St.
—Leeward - *Campbell HS, 91-980 North Rd.
—Leeward - Leihoku ES, 86-285 Leihoku St.
—Leeward - *Nanakuli H/I, 889-980 Nakakuli Ave.
—Leeward - *Pearl City HS, 2100 Hookiekie St.
—Waimanalo - *Castle HS, 45-386 Kaneohe Bay Dr.
—Windward - Kalaheo HS, 730 Iliaina St.
—Windward - *King IS, 46-155 Kamehameha Hwy.
—Windward - Pope ES, 41-133 Huli St.
Check the county website to see status of these shelters
--Kilauea Neighborhood Center, 2490 Keneke St., 808-828-0438
--Kapaa Middle School, 4867 Olohena Road, 808-821-4460
--Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, 4480 Papalina Road, 808-332-9770
Where we stand
The Hawaii Department of Health reported 64 new COVID-19 cases today, not record-setting but still in line with the high numbers the state has seen in recent days.
Of today's new cases, 55 are on Oahu, 7 in Maui County, and 2 in Kauai County. Yesterday's new case count hit a record high with 73 cases, following two successive days of high numbers of infections.
Health officials say the high numbers are threatening the state's reopening and there are calls for rollbacks to restrictions that had been imposed when daily cases were even lower than where they are now. They urge residents and visitors to wear face masks even at family gatherings, physically distance, practice good hygiene and not go out if they feel sick.
The state total now stands at 1,683 cases. Out of that total, 1,345 were cases on Oahu, 153 in Maui County, 117 in Hawaii County, and 45 in Kauai County. One case was dropped from Oahu's count based on updated information. There were 23 residents diagnosed outside of the state. One-hundred sixty-three people have been hospitalized. There have been 26 deaths.
Ige confident in contact tracing despite record-setting days of COVID-19
Gov. David Ige still has faith that the state can manage a surge in COVID-19 cases and effectively trace close contacts.
That’s despite three consecutive days of record-setting new cases, a majority on Oahu.
At a press conference yesterday, Ige said the state health department recently trained more than 400 contact tracers.
He also says the department has software that allows contact tracers to monitor up to 3,000 active cases.
"We continue to, as our goal, to make contact with every close contact of a positive patient within 24-48 hours. And we are able to maintain that goal in most instances," Ige said. "And so, we feel confident that the current contact tracing capacity continues to allow us to make contact and trace every single positive COVID individual, and make contact, and test as appropriate, every close contact of every positive case."
Ige maintains the state is the only one in the country that can successfully trace and manage COVID-19 cases.
He said he’s meeting with the mayors and other officials this week to discuss ways to reduce COVID-19 cases in the state.
Honolulu bar focus of virus cluster probe
State health officials are investigating a Honolulu bar where COVID-19 may have spread to staff and customers.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell highlighted the incident during a press conference yesterday with Gov. David Ige following three consecutive, record-breaking days of new COVID-19 cases, most on Oahu.
Caldwell says the state health department is looking into several people who fell ill at the bar.
"This is the first case I’ve been made aware of regarding a cluster starting in a bar. I think it was on July 20th, where there were many -- it was packed with a lot of people," the mayor said.
"No one was wearing face coverings -- they were watching a UFC fight. We have bouncers, patrons, and others, bartenders who’ve tested positive. And I think they’re continuing to test others who were in this bar. And it’s very troubling."
Caldwell says the bar was not one that was previously shut down for violations of his emergency rules.
He says he may consider further restricting bar and cabaret liquor sales hours and closing them at 10 p.m. rather than at midnight.