Hawaii Updates: 20 New Cases; State Hospital Case Count Reaches 20

Jul 18, 2020

Updated: 7/18/2020, 12:07 p.m.

The Hawaii Health Department today reported 20 new cases, following yesterday's two new deaths, which brought the state total to 24. Twenty-three new cases of COVID-19 were also reported yesterday. Of today's new cases, 15 are on Oahu, 2 on Hawaii Island and 3 are pending determination of location.

The latest death is an elderly Oahu woman with underlying medical conditions who died Thursday and whose passing was reported yesterday. Earlier in the day, the department reported the death of an elderly man who also suffered from a medical condition and had been convalescing at home, said Health Director Bruce Anderson.

“It strikes at all of our hearts, each and every time we have to report another casualty of COVID-19. Please be safe and practice all precautions," Anderson said in a statement. "People who have been sick with this disease and tragically the victims of coronavirus and their loved ones, deserve that respect and care from each and everyone one of us in Hawai‘i.” 

The city reported yesterday that one of its TheHandiVan driver tested positive after a household member came down with an infection. He informed Oahu Transit Services Inc., operator of TheBus and TheHandiVan, of his relative's positive test on Monday and was placed on leave and quarantined. He received his results on Thursday night.

OTS said it notified the van driver's passengers and co-workers and found no close contacts, adding that face masks on the vans are required. The health department advised, however, that passengers who were in contact with the driver should monitor their health, watch for symptoms and seek testing if they need it.

Meanwhile, an outbreak at Hawaii State Hospital is now up to 20 cases, including 10 construction workers and 10 staff employees, Anderson said. No patients have tested positive.

Hospital staff are wearing masks and given daily screenings. The health department is offering testing to any worker who thinks he or she was exposed. The positive cases at a construction site, where an annex of the hospital is being built, primarily involves contractors and subcontractors, the department said.

The state's total case count now stands at 1,354. Oahu has 1,040 cases, Maui County has 135, Hawai’i County has 111, and Kauai County has 43. Three cases are pending determination of location. There are now 22 residents who were diagnosed out of state. Some 1,019 people have been released from isolation. 

Governor formally signs quarantine extension, allows suspension of EUTF payments

 

Gov. David Ige has signed a tenth emergency proclamation that officially extends the mandatory 14-day travel quarantine for those arriving from out of state through August.

 

As announced earlier, the state's plans for a pre-travel testing option that would allow travelers to skip the quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 prior to their flight to the islands has been put on hold until Sept. 1 because of the surge in cases in Hawaii and on the Mainland.

 

The proclamation also extends the eviction moratorium that prevents landlords from moving out tenants for non-payment of rent. It also suspends certain laws to allow the governor to dip into the state's rainy day fund to use federal CARES Act money.

 

Other provisions of the governor's order suspends certain post-employment benefits and pre-funding payments to the Hawai‘i Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund for FY 2021, "to help address the economic shortfalls resulting from COVID-19."

 

According to the proclamation, public employers -- meaning the state and the counties -- could put off their annual contributions to EUTF, which provides medical and drug coverage for government employees and retirees.

 

The state is facing a $2.3 billion budget shortfall and is looking to borrow up to $1 billion from the Federal Reserve's new lending program, the Municipal Liquidity Facility.

 

But unless the federal government provides more assistance to states and local governments, Ige has said the state will need to look at furloughs, paycuts or layouts to make up the gap.

 

Over 180 visitors, returning residents arrested in quarantine violation cases

 

State and county authorities have arrested at least 182 people for violations of the 14-day mandatory quarantine order, officials said Friday.

 

The number doesn't include arrests made by the Honolulu Police Department, which does not keep separate statistics on quarantine violations.

 

The state's Joint Information Center said a team of about 80 workers from several agencies call quarantined visitors from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, including weekends, to check on whether they are abiding by the quarantine.

 

Over 27,000 travelers have been contacted since the quarantine order took effect in March and about 7,145 people were being tracked as of Friday, according to Attorney General Clare Connors.

 

Number of arriving visitors, returning residents continue to climb

 

Thursday arrivals at state airports totaled 2,616 people, including 737 visitors and 863 returning residents. That daily count continues a recent trend of returning residents exceeding visitor numbers.

 

Others arriving in the state were 265 crew membbers, 189 transiting travelers, 212 military, 111 people exempt from quarantine and 175 passengrs who they they are relocating to Hawaii.

 

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