The Latest: 110 New Cases; City Aims Again For Lower Cases To Ease Restrictions
Updated: 11/13/2020, 3:10 p.m.
New COVID-19 cases reported today totaled 110 statewide, returning the state to triple-digit counts and again raising the possibility that further easing of restrictions won't come soon, particularly on Oahu. There were no additional deaths, with the state toll standing at 222.
With today's counts, the state Department of Health reported Hawaii cases reached 16,412 since the pandemic began.
Oahu had 92 new cases, Hawaii County 8, Maui 1, Kauai 2, and Lanai and Molokai 0. Seven more cases were diagnosed out of state.
Oahu has now had 14,172 cases, Hawaii County 1,459, Maui 443, Lanai 106, Kauai 77, and Molokai 17. Out of state cases totaled 138.
Kauai County reported yesterday it has five new cases (county numbers often run ahead of state reports), the highest single day count since June.
The Kauai District Health Office said all five are in isolation and their close contacts were directed to quarantine. Three of the cases are Kauai residents and two are visitors.
"It is deeply concerning that we have more confirmed cases today than any day since June," said Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami. "At least one of these cases is likely from community transmission, which means that the virus is spreading on our island again."
Kawakami urged residents not to let their guard down and to be careful to wear masks, socially distance, avoid large gatherings and stay home if sick.
The state yesterday also issued a new weekly report on COVID-19 clusters that gives clues on where the infections are spreading.
One recent investigation of an Oahu intermediate school required contact tracing of more than 100 people, the state Department of Health said without naming the school.
The number was large because the original case, a middle school student, moved to different classrooms in nine different subjects. Some classrooms didn't have sufficient space for six-foot distances between student desks, although masking policies were in place, the state said.
The school mandated a two-week quarantine and advised that all students and teachers who shared a classroom with the student to get tested. One additional case was identified, a pupil who was sitting in front of the original student for a full class period.
The department also investigated multiple clusters involving college students attending parties in dorms. One was traced to a Halloween party attended by students from multiple universities. Five cases have been identified so far and the investigation continues.
Clusters also occurred when co-workers ate meals together, including in schools. At one elementary school, four cases -- custodians and cafeteria workers -- regularly ate lunch together, the department said. No students or other staffers were exposed.
City appeals again to residents: wear masks, avoid gatherings
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is holding out hope that Oahu can lower its COVID-19 cases and lift more restrictions.
The island hasn't progressed toward larger gatherings and more openings of businesses and activities because its coronavirus case count remains high.
The mayor said yesterday that moving from the current Tier 2 of the city reopening plan to easing limits under Tier 3 will take effort.
"The shot at meeting Tier 3 begins today. Two weeks starts today and ends on Thanksgiving. And we could get to Tier 3 if we're below 50 cases for the next two weeks, seven-day averages this coming week and the week following below 50. So 49 cases or less averaged, and a positivity rate below 2.5 -- 2.49 or lower," he said.
"And by the way, even if I, as mayor, didn't do another stay at home, work at home order and cases spiked, people are going to stop going out and our economy bleeds to death."
He said what Oahu needs are days of 20 and 30 cases. The island has achieved that before -- once after the first shutdown in March and again after the second one in August.
Caldwell says the most important step people can take to contain the virus is to wear masks. He again quoted infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci who says a mask is the next best thing to a vaccine.
--HPR's Sandee Oshiro
State makes restaurant cards available for purchase
The state is expanding a program that gives restaurant debit cards to those who are out of work.
The Hawaii Restaurant Card provides a $500 credit to Hawaii residents on unemployment which they could spend at local restaurants.
Gov. David Ige says the cards have generated more than $26 million in economic activity, funded by the federal government. Now the state is making the cards available for purchase ahead of the holiday season.
The idea is for employers to give the cards away as gifts to their employees and clients.
"They’re gonna be available in denominations from $5 to $1,000 and expected delivery time of about 3 weeks after your order," said Rich Wacker, CEO of American Savings Bank, which is helping the state facilitate the program.
The Business Holiday Cards will be available for purchase until Dec. 10 and can be purchased through the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce website.
The cards will be valid until March 21, 2021.
--HPR's Ryan Finnerty