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The Latest: 0 Deaths, 44 New COVID-19 Cases; Mayors Want Tighter Travel Rules

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Updated: 12/1/2020, 12:09 p.m. 

The state Department of Health reported no deaths and 44 new COVID-19 cases today. Because of the department's two-day delay in posting new numbers, the counts represent cases from Sunday.

Some counties are reporting more timely numbers that may differ from the state's counts.

According to the state numbers, Oahu had 32 new cases, Maui 5, Hawaii County 6, and Kauai, Molokai and Lanai 0. There were no new cases diagnosed out of state.

The latest state counts bring the Oahu total to 15,362, Hawaii County, 1,605, Maui 547, Kauai 113, Lanai 106 and Molokai 18. The number of out-of-state cases totals 217.

Since the pandemic began, the state has seen 17,968 cases. The death toll stands at 244.

Mayors seek more travel safeguards

Hawaii’s mayors continue to advocate for a tighter restrictions on travelers coming to the state.

In a meeting with state lawmakers yesterday, Hawaii’s four county mayors all said they want additional public health measures to prevent visitors and returning residents from spreading the coronavirus.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said starting Wednesday, his island will require a second COVID-19 test for all travelers arriving in Kona and Hilo.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami recently withdrew his island from the pre-travel testing program and wants to see a mandatory three-day quarantine, followed by a second test for all arrivals.

The City and County of Honolulu wants to administer a rapid COVID-19 test at the airport for travelers without a test result.

On Maui, Mayor Mike Victorino favors a mandatory test for all travelers three days after arrival.

But the health experts advising the state say the data doesn’t show a need for further restrictions.

Mark Mugiishi, a physician and head of HMSA, said statewide health measures have actually improved since the resumption of tourism in mid-October.

"The average number of new cases on a statewide basis on Oct. 11 was 97, 94 now. Test positivity rate was 2.8 on Oct. 11; it's 2.0 now. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients was 103 on Oct. 11th -- it's 60 right now. And the percent of ICU beds occupied was 53% on Oct. 11th. It's 46% now. All better. So we’ve been safely managing it," he said.

Kauai County Mayor Kawakami contends the statewide data does not accurately reflect the situation on his island, where hospital capacity is limited. Kauai is currently averaging 1 to 2 new cases per day, although with zero hospitalizations.

A representative of the hotel industry said after the state’s recent restrictions on travel testing, there were more than 10-,000 cancelled bookings and la oss of $2.5 million dollars in revenue over an 8-day period. It's unclear if all of the cancellations resulted from the policy change.

The industry supports a proposal authored by Mugiishi and others that would allow travelers to exit quarantine once a negative test results is delivered.

--HPR's Ryan Finnerty

Households impacted by COVID to receive $500 grocery cards

The city will be sending pre-paid cards to Oahu residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced yesterday the city has earmarked $3 million in federal CARES Act funds for the new “Our City” card.

He says each card will have $500 on it to buy groceries.

Amy Asselbaye, director of the city Office of Economic Revitalization said the cards will go to residents who have received help from the city.

"We’re using pre-existing lists from city programs, where someone had documented harm from COVID," she said. "If you know that you’ve received some city support, especially around housing, or household hardship relief was one of the major programs where we’re drawing from these names -- so if you received funding through that program, you should expect a card in the mail.

"Otherwise, we are not allowing people to apply to be able to use this card, because we have a very strict timeline to be able to get the relief to people."

Asselbaye says households should receive the cards by next Monday. Recipients must spend the money on the card through December 27th.

The city and state have until the end of the year to expend all of their CARES Act funds. Otherwise, they will need to return the remaining money to the federal government.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

Over 150 Waiawa inmates remain active positive cases

The state Department of Public Safety reported yesterday 162 Waiawa Correctional Facility inmates remain as active positive cases, part of the second major outbreak in a state prison since the pandemic began.

All affected inmates are in medical isolation. One has been hospitalized.

The positive cases in Waiawa have prevented Oahu from easing more restrictions under its reopening strategy, according to the city. 

The Oahu Community Correctional Center, which also saw a large outbreak earlier this year with over 400 inmates infected, continues to find positive cases in ongoing testing.

Out of 212 inmate test results received over the weekend, six were positive. Eighteen OCCC inmates are active positive and are in medical isolation.

At the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, where 1,079 Hawaii inmates are housed, testing continues. There are 123 active cases, 124 in medical isolation and 430 in quarantine. Four are hospitalized.

One Saguaro inmate from died last month from the virus. The inmate, in his 60s, was the first state inmate confirmed in medical examiner reports as dying from the coronavirus.

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