Hawaii Updates: 16 New Cases Show Increase Across State; Police Misconduct Disclosure Bill Stalls

Jun 24, 2020

Updated 6/24/20, at 12:40 p.m.

Where we stand

The Hawaii Department of Health reported 16 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. Thirteen of those cases were from Oahu. One case is reported on the Big Island. Two cases were residents who were diagnosed outside of the state. 

The number of cases is a large increase from the past two days. Yesterday, only three new cases were reported, and four new cases were reported Monday. Last week, double-digit case numbers were increasing. Eleven were reported on Sunday following Saturday's 14 cases, Friday's 27 cases, Thursday's 18 cases, Wednesday's 5 cases, Tuesday's 4 cases, Mondayʻs 8 cases and last Sunday's 5 cases. 

There is now a total of 835 total cases of COVID-19. The number of deaths remains at 17. Of the total cases, 105 have required hospitalization. The count includes Hawaii residents who were hospitalized out of state. Some 686 have been released from isolation.

The case count for Oahu now stands at 584, Maui County at 122, Hawaii County at 86, and Kauai County at 29. There is a total of 14 residents who are diagnosed outside of Hawai’i. Kauai County's newest cases are the first on the island since early April.

Health officials say they believe the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases resulted from Hawaii residents growing lax about adhering to safe practices as the state reopens. They continue to urge that residents wear face masks when out and about, practice social distancing and wash hands frequently.

Visitor arrivals drop below 400

Monday's airport arrivals totaled 1,655, including 399 visitors and 517 returning residents. 

Others coming to the islands included 192 crew members, 169 transiting travelers, 150 militry, 156 exempt from quarantine, and 72 relocatees. 

The state's mandatory 14-day quarantine remains in place for out of state travelers through July 31 as part of Hawaii's effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Police Misconduct Bill Stalls in Senate-House Meeting

State lawmakers on Monday put off a decision on just how much county police departments need to disclose about officer misconduct under a closely watched House bill.

H.B. 285 is drawing more attention as states across the country respond to calls for criminal justice reform following the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck.

The death prompted protests around the world and a reexamination of the lack of transparency in police disciplinary cases, including in Hawaii.

Details about local officers disciplined for bad behavior are withheld under the state’s Uniform Information Practices Act.

A Senate-House conference committee is reviewing the latest version of H.B. 285, which would require the disclosure of the cases and a report to the Legislature about officers who have been suspended or fired for their actions.

State Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson explained a part of the bill that he says still needs more discussion.

“At issue here for transparency sake is, at least in the report to the Legislature, should a potential misconduct only be reported once all legal avenues have been exhausted, adjudicated, and then it still stands, as opposed to is it the Legislature’s intent to know even when there’s the accusation of misconduct that leads to suspension or a discharge?”

The issue wasn't resolved in a conference meeting yesterday, that included Senate Judiciary Chair Karl Rhoads. 

Lawmakers agreed to further review the measure and reconvene the committee for decision-making today at 2 p.m. The conference will be streamed on Olelo Public Access channel 53.

--HPR's Amy Nakamura

Chief justice orders Hawaii courts to begin reopening

Hawaii Circuit Courts will resume jury trials on Sept. 1, barring any further public health development that would delay the reopening, the Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald ordered Tuesday.

The jury trials will restart with social distancing in place and will be conducted "in a manner that ensures the safety of court orders," the judiciary said in a statement.

Previous orders such as courthouse closures and entering judiciary facilities have been extended until July 31, except as otherwise directed by the chief judge of a particular circuit.

The order covers increased use of remote technology and emergency rules specific to certain circuits.

Grand juries have resumed in the Second (Maui) and Fifth (Kauai) Circuit Courts. Oahu and Hawaii Island circuits will restart grand jury proceedings in July.

Oahu satellite city halls reopening 

City officials are planning to open a majority of Oahu’s satellite city halls on July 1st.

The Department of Customer Services announced eight of its nine satellites will resume operations next month with safety measures in place.

The Ala Moana satellite city hall will remain temporarily closed because it’s preparing to relocate within the shopping center.

Residents need to make an appointment starting on June 29th for office transactions like getting a disability parking placard.

Appointments must be made through the city’s AlohaQ website.

Customer Services Director Sheri Kajiwara says walk-in transactions will not be offered.

She also asks residents to use express payment options, including grocery store kiosks for vehicle registration renewals.

Students who get free/reduced-price meals can receive cash assistance

The state Department of Human Services is offering temporary cash assistance to families with children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.

 

The funds are provided through P-EBT, the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, and will help more than 93,000 qualified students, including 48,000 receiving SNAP (food stamps) benefits.

 

The cash will be distributed in two ways: those eligible for SNAP will have their March, April and May P-EBT benefits automatically added to their Kokua EBT card.

 

Students receiving free or reduced-price school meals but not SNAP will automatically receive a P-EBT card in the mail.

 

The individual amounts are based on the month that the student became eligible for the free/reduced-price meals.

 

More information is available at the department’s website.

 

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.