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The Latest: 236 New Cases, 2 Additional Deaths; Ige Extends COVID-19 Emergency Period

AP Photo/Eugene Tanner
An Oahu resident carries home his shopping bags in the Kakaako District, Sunday, July 26, 2020, in Honolulu

Updated 8/20/20, 4:22 p.m.

Governor David Ige issued his twelfth supplementary emergency proclamation -- extending the emergency period until September 30. This extends the state's requirement for facial coverings in compliance with county rules, the 14-day qurantine for out-of-state travelers and the inter-island travel quarantine, and rental eviction moratorium.

"Act Now Honolulu" order in effect

Honolulu's latest set of restrictions are now in effect -- prohibiting social gatherings larger than five people. This will affect not only private events, but also limit group sizes in restaurants, as well as indoor and outdoor attractions. The "Act Now Honolulu - No Social Gatherings" order also encourages businesses to limit the number of employees working in an office, and prohibits the use of lunchrooms.

Where we stand

The Hawaii Department of Health reported 2 deaths and 236 new COVID-19 cases today. That brings the state's total to 5,844 and total deaths to 45. Of the new cases, 229 are on Oahu, 1 in Maui County, and 12 on Hawaii Island.

One of the deaths was an Oahu man, older than 60-years-old, who had an underlying health condition. He was hospitalized and passed away on August 15. The other was Lanai man between 40-59 years old. He also had underlying health conditions and had been hospitalized on Maui. Health officials believe his death is travel-related.

The total cases now include 5,340 on Oahu, 164 on Hawaii Island, 263 in Maui County, and 54 on Kauai. 23 cases were diagnosed out of state.

Kauai and Maui Mayors provide resort bubble update

Resort bubbles are being considered in Kauai and Maui counties as a way to keep visitors within resort properties, and possibly jump start the tourism industry.

"We are stuck beteween a rock and a hard place when it comes to balancing our physical and economic health, and clearly health and safety are paramount," said Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami. "We know the 14-day quarantine has helpedkeep the virus at bay, but that comes with a cost."

Kawakami says under this modified bubble, it will require hotels and resorts to opt-in.

"Resorts would have to show a burden of proof that they have the ability, and process and systems in place to keep their associates healthy and safe, as well as their guests, and, of course most importantly, our people who live here day in and day out," he said.

Under the plan, visitors will be transported from the airport to approved hotels. Visitors will have to wear a wristband that has geotracking capabilities, which will alert hotel and county officials if it's tampered with or if it is outside the resort's property.

Kawakami says hotels will have to apply through a permitting system to prove they have the proper systems in place -- such as security, education, and technology.

Kawakami says rumors of privatizing beaches for resorts are false. He did not give a date of when Kauai will start its resort bubble -- adding it is a work in progress.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino also did not give further details of when a resort bubble would happen within the county.

Production of reality TV show delayed

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino announced earlier today that production for the TV show "Temptation Island" has been delayed due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns.

The show was set to film at the Andaz Maui at Wailea resort.

"This was a very difficult decision due to the financial impacts to our local union film workers and hotel workers, as well as to the film production company," Victorino said in a released statement. "However, considering the recent surge in cases on our island, all parties agreed to delay the show before production began."

Victorino hints at rolling back reopening

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino announced restrictions could be reinstated for the county if new COVID-19 cases continue to climb. He made that announcement county during a press conference yesterday afternoon. 20 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the county Wednesday -- all on Maui -- raising it's total number of cases for the month of August to 92 cases. 

"In April we had 90, which was the pinnacle, at that time, of the pandemic," Victorino said. "I'm very, very scared that things are not going in the right way. And a lot of it is because you, the public, has decided COVID-19 may not exist anymore."

Victorino has previously stated he would reinstate restrictions on the county if there were consecutive days of new cases in the double digits. And with recent numbers, he believes time is running out "very quickly."

"We're getting close," he said. "But we got a few more days, and a long weekend coming up. I'm still leaving it up to the public to show me to do better. If not, then I can implement change on Monday."

Victorino didn't share what restrictions would be reinstated, but is looking at possibly limiting gatherings. 

Three Honolulu establishments ordered to shut down

Three establishments have been cited and ordered to close for 24 hours by the Honolulu Liquor Commission. 

The Nighthawk (12 South King Street), Pitch Sports Bar (Salt Kakaako) and Vein at Kakaako (Salt Kakaako) were cited by investigators on Saturday, August 15th for violating the mayor's emergency order.

All the establishments were cited for serving alcohol past the 10 p.m. service cut off time for restaurants.

Nearly three weeks ago, Mayor Kirk Caldwell shut down bars due to clusters tied to two Honolulu establishments. The mayor's office says the bar shutdown will continue for the next 28 days under the "Act Now Honolulu" order, which went into effect today.

Honolulu Councilmember calls for better COVID response

Honolulu council members have expressed disappointment with the lack of coordination between the state and the city in dealing with the COVID-19 surge.

The council discussed a resolution during its monthly meeting yesterday urging the administration to increase the monitoring and enforcement of COVID-19 protective measures. Although Mayor Kirk Caldwell has taken actions to address the surge in cases -- there was some disagreement in the council.

Council member Heidi Tsuneyoshi opposed the resolution, saying she objects to the state and city's response with its latest restrictions. She says there needs to be more data to drive government action.

"If we are going to do more restrictions, we ahve to base it on what we see," she said. "Yes, there has been additional numbers. Yes, there has been an increase in numbers.

"However, I have it based on fairly significant people in the medical professional industry, that those numbers are somewhat skewed. The numbers we're getting day-to-day from positives can, and probably do include false positives -- can, and probably do, include people that have been tested mulitple times. Because when they get put into a hospitalized situations, they are tested multiple times until they get a negative."

Tsuneyoshi says the city and state should be using federal CARES funding more effectively, and implement better measures to deal with COVID while moving forward.

--Casey Harlow

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