Hawaii Updates: 2 New Cases Bring Total To 900; Bus Driver Drove While Sick

Jun 29, 2020

Updated: 6/29/2020, 5:26 p.m.

Where we stand

The Hawaii Health Department reported only two new cases of COVID-19 today but the increase brought the total statewide cases to 900. Both new cases are Oahu adults associated with a known case and they have been isolated. The smaller count follows yesterday's spike of 27 new cases.

One case was removed from the total count based on updated information. The number of deaths stands at 18. Of the total cases, 111 have required hospitalization. The count includes Hawaii residents who were hospitalized out of state. Some 719 people have been released from isolation.

The case count for Oahu now stands at 638, Maui County at 122, Hawaii County at 87, and Kauai County at 37. There is a total of 16 residents who were diagnosed outside of Hawai’i.

City bus driver worked while sick

The operator of city's TheBus system disclosed yesterday that one of its bus drivers has tested positive for COVID-19 and drove for a week although he felt sick, according to officials. The state Department of Health also reported 27 new coronavirus cases yesterday, with 17 of them tied to an Oahu funeral. 

The bus driver who typically worked out of the Pearl City division drove several routes over the past week: route 9 (Pearl Harbor-Kaimuki); 40 (Makaha-Honolulu); 42 (Ewa Beach-Waikiki); 88A (North Shore Express); and 501 (Mililani Mauka)

It is not known how the driver got infected, according to the Oahu Transit Services Inc., operator of TheBus and TheHandiVan. The case is the first of an in-service driver, although another driver had tested positive earlier this spring after travel. 

In a press conference yesterday televised by KITV, OTS President Roger Morton and his staff said the driver became ill last week Monday but continued to work until tested on Friday. He received the results Saturday and the company was informed that night.

The company will be looking into whether the driver violated company policy by working while sick, said Morton. 

The driver is in quarantine, along with two other bus employees. The city said the state health department will be conducting contact tracing.

OTS said in a news release that all of the buses operated by the driver have been deep cleaned and disinfected.

The cases associated with the funeral were identified with intensive contact tracing, the state said in a press release, and all have been isolated. Contact tracing also identified 6 cases in Leeward Oahu tied to known cases and they, too, are in isolation.

The two new Kauai cases are tied to the outbreak reported last week and the Hawaii Island case is tied to travel from Georgia. There were no immediate details provided on the Maui case.

On Friday, officials announced Hawaii's 18th death from COVID-19. He was an elderly Honolulu man whose coronavirus death was the first in the islands since May 3. 

The latest jump in cases and the 18th death come as the state plans for a partial lifting of the visitor quarantine on Aug. 1.

HSTA reaches agreement with DOE on school reopening

The Hawaii State Teachers Association reached an agreement with the state on safety modifications to allow schools to reopen in the fall. The memorandum of agreement will be part of the collective bargaining contract with teachers, including those in public charter schools.

One requirement requires a six-foot separation among the students and school staff whenever possible. Students, staff and visitors should wear face coverings, except when it is unsafe or there is a medical risk.

Schools will need to provide sanitation supplies, personal protective equipment and reimbursement to teachers if the supplies are not available.

"Our main priorities included looking to health expertise for the safest practices, providing educator voice in making decisions, assuring protections, and advocating for equity of treatment and resources for our members," the union said in a statement to members.

The union said not all of its demands were met. 

"They were unwilling to agree to any blanket guarantee of telework or to provide child care for public school teachers whose children are impacted by hybrid schedules. They were also unwilling to agree to negotiate anything mandating specific classroom configurations, health and safety processes and procedures, or a 100-percent mask rule with no exceptions," according to HSTA.

Visitor arrivals jump, approach 500

After a brief lull, there's been another spike in visitors arriving in the islands despite a mandatory, 14-day quarantine requirement.

On Saturday, 1,930 people arrived in the islands. They included 481 visitors and 683 returning residents. Others in the total included 231 crew members, 210 transiting travelers, 170 military, 93 who say they are relocating here, and 62 exempt from quarantine. 

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.