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The Latest: 3 Deaths, 102 Cases; City Lifts More Restrictions; Lanai Cases Spike

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Updated: 10/22/2020, 12:08 p.m. The Hawaii Department of Health today reported 3 deaths and 102 new COVID-19 cases. The new infections return the state's case count to three-digit territory.

The latest count brings the total number of COVID cases during the pandemic to 14,335. The death toll rose to 206.

 

Oahu had 52 new cases followed by 29 on Hawaii Island, 18 in Maui County and none in Kauai County. Three more cases were diagnosed out of state.

 

Oahu has now had 12,669 cases, Hawaii Island 1,120, Maui County 435 and Kauai 60. Fifty-one cases have been diagnosed out of state.  One Hawaii Island case was removed from the counts based on updated information. 

The state reported 14 deaths yesterday. Ten deaths include 8 males and 2 females from Hawaii Island, all 70 to 80 years old and all nursing home residents. They occurred between mid-September and early October.

The four Oahu deaths include one male, over 80 with an underlying medical condition, who was a community care home resident, and three females, also over 80 with medical conditions who were hospitalized when they died.

City eases more restrictions as it reopens

Honolulu is now in the second tier of its reopening, meaning more businesses can open or expand operations. Gov. David Ige yesterday approved the city’s request to lift additional COVID-19 restrictions.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell earlier this week outlined what’s now allowed.

"Restaurants -- five people regardless of household or live-in unit. So now you can go to a restaurant with your friends. Personal care services are now allowed, outside of haircutting and those kinds of things," he said.

 

"You can now have other things done that you couldn’t do before. Legal short-term rentals can reopen. Gyms and fitness facilities are allowed to operate at 25% capacity. Indoor group fitness classes are allowed for up to five people - that could be other types of classes.

 

"Other commercial attractions, five people indoor allowed. It could be things like arcades, you know, you think about E.K. Fernandez. They can reopen 25% capacity. And helicopter tours can operate again at 5% capacity in the helicopter."

 

Caldwell says the city will remain in the second tier of its reopening plan for at least two weeks.

Depending on new COVID cases and positivity rates, the city could further ease restrictions or return to limits under the first tier.

More information on what’s now allowed can be found at oneoahu.org.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

Lanai cases spike to 16, none hospitalized

The number of people on Lanai confirmed positive for COVID-19 grew to 16 yesterday, according to the state Department of Health. The island had no reported coronavirus cases since the pandemic began until its first four were reported on Tuesday.

Heidi Taogoshi, public health nursing supervisor for the department's Maui District Health Office, said all 16 cases are Lanai residents. None are hospitalized and all are isolating at home, she said. Workplaces, schools and other impacted establishments are being notified or have been told.

She said anyone who was in close contact with those testing positive should quarantine. She said if they have no symptoms, they should contact their medical providers to see if they should be tested.

"There should be no blaming. COVID affects everyone. Don't be ashamed to get tested," she said.

A drive-through testing event is scheduled on Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the old Dole Administration Building, she said. But she advised residents to pre-register at Straub Medical Center Lanai or Lanai Community Health Center

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said a disinfection team will be sent to Lanai on Friday. It will sanitize state and county offices. Any businesses needing disinfection should contact Deputy Managing Director Josiah Nishida.

Victorino said there are no plans at this time to change travel restrictions. While he said there is no need for panic, he asked residents to take precautions.

"We ask everyone to maybe do a little extra right now," the mayor said. "Maybe not go out, maybe not get out there in the public right now. Stay at home. Wear your mask, and all the other five Ws you need to do. Most importantly, we will get through this together."

Businesses seek rent relief from city, but 94% of federal funds allocated

Businesses and landlords are appealing to the City Council for commercial rent relief so they can stay afloat as the pandemic drags on.

A new survey released this week found 4 in 10 businesses have not paid their rent in full -- and 3 in 10 expect to miss paying their full rent for the rest of the year.

Tina Yamaki of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii says rent is the biggest expense for businesses.

"To be honest with you, some of them also are very, very reliant on the visitor industry. And so they don't have visitors coming in right now," said Yamaki. While the tourism industry is opening up, businesses say visitors are not spending as they normally do, she said.

"You know, they're very budget conscious. I had one guy tell me they had five customers in their store yesterday. Not five people who purchased but five people who walked in and walked out again."

The business group is seeking $100 million in CARES Act funds to help businesses cover rent for a few months.

Business consultant Ryan Tanaka says the group met with the governor but the state advised that they go back to the city for help.

But Gary Kurokawa, the mayor's chief of staff, says the city has already allocated 94 percent of its share of CARES Act funding, a majority of it for small businesses.

--HPR's Sandee Oshiro

Big Island easing interisland travel

Hawaii Island is doing away with its 14-day quarantine for all interisland travel and will now accept a negative COVID-19 test instead.

It’s the last county in the state to ease interisland travel.

Mayor Harry Kim says enforcing the quarantine has been difficult so this change is meant to relieve that pressure.

Travelers will be required to take a test 72 hours before their departure for the Big Island. Or they could get tested after arrival and quarantine until they get their negative results.

"As soon as you're cleared, and that is given to the Department of Health and the county, you are off quarantine," he said.

 

He said the county is offering tests at various locations, including free PCR tests.

 

"And again, because of the rapid turnaround time of a day, a day and a half at the most, you can be on quarantine just that one day or day and a half, just go and get yourself tested. You get cleared, you present that and you're off quarantine. It’s as simple as that."

 

Kim says he is also re-evaluating the county's mandatory second test for trans-Pacific travelers. That’s because there’ve been too many false positives from the rapid tests that are used.

The mayor is hoping to establish a different second test policy for trans-Pacific travelers by the end of the week. That could include a voluntary test three to four days after arrival, similar to Kauai’s and Maui’s.

--HPR's Ashley Mizuo

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