The Latest: 2 Deaths, 77 New COVID-19 Cases; More Lanai Testing On Saturday
Updated: 10/29/2020, 1:15 p.m. The Hawaii Department of Health reported 2 deaths and 77 new COVID-19 cases today. The latest count brings the total number of COVID cases during the pandemic to 14,911. The death toll now stands at 215.
Oahu had 60 new cases, Hawaii Island 8, Maui and Molokai none, Lanai 2, and Kauai County 1. Six more cases were diagnosed out of state.
Oahu has now recorded 13,013 cases, Hawaii Island 1,246, Maui 404, Molokai 17, Lanai 97 and Kauai 64. Seventy cases have been diagnosed out of state. One case from Maui was added to Lanai's count due to updated information.
A second round of surge testing is planned this Saturday on Lanai, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said. While the number of COVID-19 cases on the island has stabilized, according to the mayor, he urged residents to take the second test.
Lanai is under a stay-at-home order until Nov. 11 because of an outbreak that officials say started at large social gatherings and spread through households.
While cases stand at 97, results from last Saturday's surge testing are still being reported out, the department said.
Two people have been hospitalized. One has been sent to Maui and another one to Oahu, the mayor said yesterday.
Lanai High School and Elementary, where about 30 students have been infected, according to media reports. The school is closed to in-person classes and transitioned to distance learning. Victorino said the school has been sanitized.
More HPD officers to patrol Waikiki, other areas for Halloween
Honolulu police plan to have a heavy presence in Waikiki and other parts of Oahu this Halloween weekend.
Officials fear a repeat of the July 4th celebrations that triggered a surge in COVID-19 cases and an islandwide lockdown.
Police Chief Susan Ballard says HPD will issue warnings and citations to anyone who violates the city's safety measures.
"The officers are going to be out there. We've redistributed staffing. So not just in Waikiki we're going to have additional staffing but we are going to have additional staffing around the whole island because we really are encouraging people -- please, please, please do not have large gatherings," she said.
"You know what? Take this year, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's -- let's just bypass this year with just have intimate gatherings, five or less. But the officers will be out there. So if we get calls or we see that there's a large gathering, then they'll be there to enforce the emergency proclamation as well."
Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the city has managed to keep COVID cases low and its positivity rate at 2 percent over the past seven days.
If the trend holds for two more weeks, the city could move to the next tier in its reopening timeline. That would allow gatherings of up to 10 people -- just in time for Thanksgiving.
--HPR's Sandee Oshiro
Section 8 housing aid offered for first time in 4 years
The state is opening up the waitlist for Section 8 housing vouchers for the first time since 2016.
The vouchers help cover housing costs for the low-income, elderly and disabled.
Recipients pay around 30 percent of their income toward rent and the Section 8 program covers the rest with direct payments to landlords.
Online applications will open starting today at 8 a.m.and run to Monday at 4:30 p.m.
After the application period closes, the state plans a lottery to randomly pick 3,000 applicants. Out of that pool, 750 will be selected for Section 8 help.
Four years ago, over 12,000 families sought help under the program.
To apply and for more information, go to hphaishereforyou.org.
Pacific Islanders lack social service nonprofits
Hawai'i’s Pacific Islander community has been hit with a disproportionately high number of COVID-19 cases. After a decline earlier this fall, the numbers are back up.
The state Department of Health says Pacific Islanders make up about 4 percent of the state’s population, but 28 percent of the cases of the virus.
That’s the highest among any single ethnic group.
One factor was a lack of information in Pacific Island languages, especially in the early days of the pandemic.
That’s according to Tina Tauasosi, director of Pasefika Passion Pipeline, a group at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.
She said the Pacific Islander community has suffered from the lack of a social service infrastructure.
"What I've seen with this pandemic is that because of the lack of nonprofit organizations within this community, it's really sad for Pacific Islanders," she said. "We don't have enough resources like other ethnic groups. For example, Native Hawaiian have a lot of nonprofit organizations. We don't."
But in May, the Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders on the U.S. mainland formed a team to help each other.
Tauasosi says her community is better served now that specific positions dedicated to Pacific Islander issues have been created by the City and County of Honolulu and the state Department of Health.
--HPR's Noe Tanigawa