Hawaii Updates: 7 New Cases; Quarantine Extended; State Plans Airport Face Recognition Tech

Jun 11, 2020

Updated: 6/11/2020, 12:33 p.m.

Where we stand

Seven new cases of COVID-19 have been reported today by the state health department. All of the cases have been reported on Oahu.

After updated testing information, the new number of COVID-19 cases statewide was set at 692. The number of deaths has remained at 17. The case count for Oahu is now at 458, Maui County at 120, Hawaii County at 81 and Kauai County at 21. About 622 people have been released from isolation.

The health officials have warned that as the state reopens businesses and activities, there will be more new cases. Officials urged residents to continue taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including using face masks and practicing social distancing.

--HPR News Staff

Out-of-state quarantine extended 

Gov. David Ige extended the Hawaii's mandatory 14-day quarantine through July for all arriving travelers in a bid to keep coronavirus cases in the islands low.

Ige said on Wednesday that the rule is being extended as the state works to solidify a screening process that could`soon allow travelers to return in some capacity.

Hawaii has among the lowest COVID-19 infection and mortality rates in the nation. Ige enacted a mandatory self-quarantine for all arriving tourists and residents in March.

Some violators of the quarantine rules have been charged, including a resident who was arrested this week after she was found to have left her home in Waikiki.

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates: 4 New COVID-19 Cases; Legislature To Resume; City Summer Fun Free But Limited

Officials said the state's interisland quarantine rules will be lifted next Tuesday, but anyone with a temperature over 100.4 degrees will not be allowed to fly.

Other portions of the governor's latest order creates a criminal liability for any host of guests who violate quarantine and for owners of cars rented to those who violate quarantine.

The governor also extended the eviction moratorium through Juy 31.

--Associated Press and HPR News Staff

State plans thermal screening with facial recognition at airports

The state is launching a two-week pilot COVID-19 screening program next week at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

The results of the program could determine how the state reopens for mainland and international travel. One component of the plan: facial recognition.

Five mainland companies are participating in the two-week program. It'll be like an audition to see which company will get a contract to run the program statewide.

Each company will set up thermal temperature screening equipment and facial recognition cameras. The state would use the technology to verify that passengers’ temperatures don't exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gov. David Ige said yesterday that the information from the facial recognition cameras will only be used while the travelers are in the airport and won’t be stored beyond that.

"Even though we have thermal scanners that are operated manually, the facial recognition would allow us to recognize people who are exceeding the 100.4 temperature as they walk through the terminal and would allow us to meet with them, retake their temperature and redo a more comprehensive health screening so that we can provide them either the opportunity to be tested or encourage them to seek health care as appropriate," he said.

The pilot program will last two weeks and the companies have until June 26 to submit their proposals. The state Department of Transportation plans to select the winner by the following week.

The thermal scanners are scheduled to be operating at all gates statewide by the end of July with a full rollout of the program by Dec. 31.

The state Legislature allocated $36 million from the federal CARES Act for the thermal scanners, but a department spokesman says the cost of the project will depend on which company proposal gets selected.

Meanwhile, the mandatory quarantine for interisland travel lifts next Tuesday. Passengers will have their temperatures checked and will have to fill out a new health and travel form.

Ige encourages interisland travelers to fill it out before their flight.

--HPR's Ashley Mizuo

Caldwell supports rigorous testing for out-of-state travelers

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell yesterday backed a City Council resolution that calls for travelers to undergo rigorous COVID-19 screening when tourism fully reopens.

Caldwell told the council's economic assistance and revitalization committee that he wants visitors initially tested before they board their planes for Hawaii.

“So what I do think, a screen needs to be in place is a viral test three days before you leave from wherever you’re coming. And if it’s negative, you come. If it’s positive, you can’t come to the state of Hawaii unless you quarantine for 14 days but I can’t believe you’d be allowed on a plane.”

The mayor supports further testing after the tourists come here. He says that three days after arrival, they should be tested again. If a traveler shows up positive for COVID-19, they would be quarantined in a special location, perhaps hotels.

Asked about the mayor's support for pre-flight testing, Gov. David Ige says the idea is one of the approaches the state is looking at to restore trans-Pacific travel.

One open question is how the state can be sure that a certified lab conducts the tests, but he said pre-flight testing is among the options on the table.

The council resolution, introduced by Councilman Ron Menor, calls on the governor and state Legislature to adopt a plan to test incoming travelers with the "most accurate feasible diagnostic viral tests" so that the state can safely reopen. It also calls for funding of the program.

Caldwell told the committee that he thinks the cost of testing should be borne by visitors.  

An amended resolution was reported out by the economic revitalization committee and now goes to the full council for adoption.

--HPR's Amy Nakamura

State: Progress made in issuing unemployment benefits

The state says it has processed 88 percent of the valid unemployment insurance claims submitted since the COVID-19 lockdown closed businesses across the islands.

Since March 1, $803,200,377 in benefits have been paid out, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said in a press release.

But 148,188 valid claims still await action by the department. Delays in issuing benefits have plagued the department, draw complaints and even death threats against department staff.

Gov. David Ige said yesterday that he ordered Labor Director Scott Murakami to take leave because of the pressure and stress of managing the flood of jobless claims that overwhelmed his department.

It is unclear when Murakami might return. In the interim, Deputy Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio has been in charge of the department.

--HPR News Staff

Arriving visitors approach 500 

Arrivals on Tuesday numbered 1,626, with 497 visitors and 518 returning residents among them.

Others included 158 crew members, 113 travelers in transit, 162 military, 78 exempted by the state from quarantine and 100 people who say they are relocating to the islands.

--HPR News Staff

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.