Hawaii Updates: 14 New Cases, 7 on Kauai; State Says It Can Manage Higher Case Load

Jun 20, 2020

Updated: 6/20/2020, 11:59 a.m.

Where we stand

The Hawaii Department of Health reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 today, 7 on Kauai, 6 on Oahu and 1 on Maui. That follow's yesterday's spike of 27 cases.

The seven new cases on Kauai are all in a single household where a previous case had been identified. Those infected were placed in quarantine and the Kauai District Health Office is continuing its contact tracing to identify any additional cases.

Today's 14 cases follows Friday's 27 new cases, Thursday's 18 new cases, Wednesday's 5 cases; Tuesday's 4 cases; Mondayʻs 8 cases; and Sunday's 5 new cases. Last week Saturday saw 17 cases and last Friday 15 infections.

After adjusting the numbers based on updated information, the state reported as of today 803 total cases of COVID-19. The number of deaths stood at 17.

The case count for Oahu now stands at 557, Maui County at 122, Hawaii County at 83 and Kauai County at 29. Kauai County's new cases are the first additons on the island since early April.

The state has said while the new cases are concerning, the healthcare system can handle the numbers. But officials added that residents should continue to take precautions. They said in a news release today that they believe increases in COVID-19 cases resulted from Hawai‘i residents relaxing safe practices, including physical distancing, wearing face masks and frequent hand washing.

The majority of the new cases in recent days are related to clusters in large households with crowded conditions, adult care and long-term nursing facilities as well as home gatherings.

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates: Record 27 New Cases Reminder Of Ongoing Threat; Oahu Bars, Gyms Can Reopen Today

One of the clusters was described as a faith community in Waipahu, having a gathering in a home. The health department said as many as 35 recent cases may be tied to this gathering. 

In Wahiawa, five new cases are believed to be associated with several adult care homes located on the same property. 

Health officials are most concerned, however, about a cluster at the state's largest skilled nursing facility, Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, where many elderly live.

According to the facility's website, seven residents and five staff workers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Five of the residents have been hospitalized and two remain in Hale Nani in an isolation unit.

Staff members are self-isolating at home and won't return to work until medically cleared. All residents and staff of units where there were positive cases are being retested today and a second round of testing is scheduled next week.

State Epidemiologist Sarah Park said virtually all of the newly reported cases are due to community-spread, often within a group setting, rather than being travel-related.

Park said there is no evidence that recent protests, referring to the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, have led to the recent spike in cases. "Nonetheless, we continue to strongly encourage physical distancing and use of face masks when people are engaged in practicing First Amendment rights, or while in any other large gatherings, with people who don't live in the same household," she said.

City proclaims June 19th as 'Juneteenth'

The Honolulu City Council adopted a resolution proclaiming June 19 as “Juneteenth,” marking the oldest commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.

“It is important that our City sends a clear signal that we stand in solidarity with the Black community as we all work together for social justice,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell in a press release. “But it’s also important that we celebrate and lift up the contributions and achievements of Black people in Hawaiʻi from the time of the Hawaiian Kingdom to today. Recognizing Juneteenth is a way to do both and I’m proud of the way our community has come together and grown stronger in the face of injustice.”

City Council Member Tommy Waters, chair of the Committee on Public Safety and Welfare, said the resolution highlighted that the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi had declared that slavery would not be tolerated in any way a decade before the Civil War.

Maui mayor lets county budget take effect

Mayor Michael Victorino is allowing the County Council-approved $823 million fiscal year 2021 operating budget to take effect without his signature.

Victorino objected to the County Council version of the budget, but said yesterday he will send it back to the council, allowing it to take effect on July 1, 2020.

Victorino submitted his $869 million proposed spending plan in March as the effects of the pandemic were taking hold. The council trimmed the administration's version of the budget to $823 million, raising residential trash and landfill tipping fees. Victorino said he was "disheartened" by the increases.

“Although the increase appears minimal, many of our residents and businesses will find it difficult to absorb any further undue financial burden during this time,” he said in a letter to the council yesterday.

The mayor said he understood the need to reduce the county’s budget given the expected decline in tax revenue due to COVID-19 impacts. But he said the cuts were offset by additional funds for programs and projects proposed by council members.

HVCB offers discount program for Hawaii residents 

The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau has launched a program offering specials and discounts to local residents on accommodations, attractions, dining and other services.

The program comes as interisland travel for residents reopens without the mandatory 14-day quarantine and resumption of out-of-state tourism is at least a month or more away.

The “Kamaaina Special Offers Program” will be available online through August 31.

“Our communities have been vastly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such it is important to us that we support our residents and local businesses,” said John Monahan, president and CEO of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, in a news release.

“With the recent lifting of the interisland quarantine, the Kamaaina Special Offers Program creates opportunities for residents to reconnect with one another, explore and enjoy our island home, as well as bolster our local economy in the process.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Editor's note: We’d like to hear how you’re coping with the latest COVID-19 developments and the state's phased reopening. You can call our talkback line at 808-792-8217. Or e-mail us at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.