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The Latest: No Deaths, 89 New Cases; State Seeks More Pre-Travel Testing Partners

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Associated Press
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Updated: 11/3/2020, 3:18 p.m.

The state Department of Health reported no deaths and 89 new COVID-19 cases today. The total infections since the pandemic began now number 15,318.

Oahu had 73 new cases, Hawaii County 7, Kauai 1, Lanai 3, and Maui and Molokai none. There were 5 new cases diagnosed out of state. The death toll stands at 219.

There have been 13,321 cases on Oahu, 1,311 on Hawaii Island, 410 on Maui, 103 on Lanai, 67 on Kauai, and 17 on Molokai. There have been 89 cases diagnosed out of state.

On Lanai, a stay-at-home order remains in effect after an outbreak that stemmed from large gatherings and household transmission.

About 400 people Lanai on the island were tested Saturday in a second round of surge screening at the old Dole Administration Building, according to Maui County.

Results from the two surge testing events are expected to increase the island's case count as they are reported.

State seeking more Safe Travels testing partners 

Gov. David Ige is seeking more locations on the U.S. mainland where trans-Pacific travelers can take a COVID-18 test prior to their arrival and qualify for a quarantine waiver with a negative result. The call for more testing partners follows recent visitor numbers that have been disappointing for the tourism industry.

Total daily arrivals have not exceeded 9,000 since the Safe Travels pre-travel testing program launched on Oct. 15, according to Hawaii Tourism Authority data. Prior to the pandemic, Hawaii recorded about 30,000 passengers a day. Those who say they are in the islands for pleasure or vacation have rarely gone above 3,000 on any given day since the reopening.

Problems have also dogged the Safe Travels program. Some possible visitors say they could not find an approved testing partner where they live. Others say they tested negative but were still required to quarantine. 

Those that sign on to become "trusted testing partners" are required to provide tests at a CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) licensed or certified laboratory and provide travelers their results on the state's test result form. 

They must also meet at least one of six criteria, such as the ability to reach travelers in 10 states or have a strong presence in nine locations, such as in the New York tri-state area.

"Now that the pre-travel testing program has successfully launched, we are working to expand the network to make it easier to safely travel to Hawaii," Ige said in a news release.

A panel will review the partner applications, which are due by 2 p.m. Thursday, with the new group to be launched under the program on Nov. 17.

About one-third of Hawaii inmates tested at Arizona facility are positive

At Saguaro Correction Center in Eloy, Ariz., mass testing of 1,011 Hawaii inmates found 317 or 31% were positive, the state Department of Public Safety said yesterday.

Some 575 or 57% were negative and 46 or 5% were inconclusive. Results are still pending for 73 inmates. The number of inmates with active cases and in isolation stands at 378. Six inamates are in the hospital.

Those who tested negative or whose results are pending have been placed in precautionary quarantine. They will be tested again in three to five days based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

There are 1,081 Hawaii inmates at the Saguaro facility.

Questions remain about the death of a Hawaii inmate on Oct. 29. The cause of death had not been determined as of Sunday.

DOE closes Kapolei High campus after 3 COVID-19 cases

Kapolei High School campus has been closed to students and staff after three cases related to employees were reported in recent days.

The state Department of Education said Kapolei High is transitioning to full distance learning for all students and teleworking for staff starting Wednesday through Nov. 11. The school is scheduled to reopen on Nov. 12, the department said in a news release.

Grab-and-go meals at the campus will be discontinued for now but families can pick up meals from any nearby campus participating in the program.

The department said the school is coordinating cleaning and sanitation during the Kapolei campus closure.

DOE does not typically name a school tied to COVID cases unless circumstances such as a closure warrants it.

Hawaii lawmakers call for calm as some cities prepare for post-election unrest

Cities and businesses across the U.S. are preparing for violence and unrest in anticipation of this election’s results.

But two Hawaii lawmakers are reminding residents to remain peaceful, respectful and united, regardless of who wins the presidency.

House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti and Minority Leader Gene Ward agree Hawaii is different from the rest of the country.

"The civil discourse that we have here in Hawaii is important because it’s marked by respect. And as we move forward, especially now, because we have so many problems to solve, this pandemic has wrecked our economy, left a lot of people behind, and we have a lot of work to do," she said.

"So I think there’s work to be done, and we will get on with it after the elections are resolved. And we have to do it with aloha."

Ward said disunity can hurt the community.

"You can always put political parties back together, but you can’t put disunited people together. You can’t put Hawaii’s fabric back together if it rips bigger than it is," he said. "And let’s face it -- we are Americans first, Democrats/Republicans second, and we will get through this – just like we’ll get through this COVID."

"We’ll throw this virus on the ash heap of history. We’ll get through the elections, we just got to smooth it out. We got to be mindful of what rule of law is, and it’s a real test of the aloha spirit. Do we really believe in being kind and considerate of others?"

--HPR's Casey Harlow

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