Hawaii Updates: Cases Edge Toward 500; Kauai Police Arrest Two; Lawmakers Seek National Guard Help

Apr 12, 2020

Updated: 4/12/2020, 12:10 p.m.

The state's confirmed and presumed positive coronavirus cases today number 499, up 13 from the previous day, according to the state's latest daily update. The death count stands at nine. 

Oahu's case count is now 350, Maui's 82, Hawaii Island's 39, Kauai's 21, and Molokai's 2. Lanai is the only major island without a case of the virus. 

Travel-related cases have dropped significantly and community-associated cases have been slowly rising.

The ninth death was a woman 65 or older who had underlying medical conditions, had tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized on Oahu, the health department said yesterday.

The eighth death was an elderly male hospitalized at Maui Memorial Medical Center in the chronic care unit.

Health Director Bruce Anderson said Friday that the department is investigating the death to see if it is tied to the outbreak at Maui Memorial.

The state adjusted its numbers today and said in addition to 15 Maui Memorial workers testing positive and 4 patients under investigation, an additional 7 staff and 5 patients have tested positive, bringing the total number of people under investigtion to 31 as of yesterday.

The hospital will have notified by tomorrow 194 patients who were cared for by the infected health care workers, the health department said. The department is helping with outreach to patients by phone and the testing of patients and workers is continuing.

Inmates moving to federal detention center

The Federal Detention Center has agreed to temporarily take up to 100 state inmates to help ease overcrowding at Hawaii correctional facilities during the coronavirus crisis.

The detention center had suspended inmate movements for 30 days but agreed to resume the program effective tomorrow.

"Further internal discussion and planning with the FDC is needed to coordinate movement," said state Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda. "We will figure that out together in the coming days."

The transfer of inmates to the detention center is among the steps being taken to prevent an outbreak at the correctional centers where individuals live in close quarters.

Last week, the Hawaii Supreme Court accepted the recommendations of special master Daniel Foley to have judges evaluate the release of inmates on a case-by-case basis.

The state Office of the Public Defender has proposed releasing hundreds of inmates to avoid a coronavirus outbreak in the jails as those in New York and elsewhere have seen. But acting Honolulu Prosecutor Dwight Nadamoto has opposed a wholesale release of inmates and wants prosecutors to review each case. 

More visitors arriving in the islands

Another 89 visitors arrived in Hawaii, despite a mandatory 14-day quarantine imposed on all arrivals in response to the coronavirus.

Yesterday, a total of 404 peole came to the islands. Besides the 89 visitors, 99 crew members, 35 intended residents such as returning students, 147 returning residents and 34 transiting travelers also arrived in the state.

$31M in Hawaii college student grant aid available

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs wants Hawaii's accredited colleges to quickly come up with a way to distribute $31 million in student grant aid.

The funds are being made available through the federal CARES Act approved in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and will be distributed immediately, according to an announcement by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos.

Students can use the cash for expenses tied to disruptions to their education due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Expenses can cover course materials and technology, food, housing, health care, and childcare, DCCA said.

"“We want to ensure that these colleges and universities are working quickly to get funding to the students who need it the most,” said Bobbi Lum-Mew, Hawaii Post-secondary Education Authorization Program (HPEAP) administrator.  “We encourage them to take action so that affected students can continue their education without worry.”

Kauai police arrest two on charges of breaking quarantine

Kauai police say they arrested two visitors who violated the mandatory 14-day quarantine in effect statewide.

Adam Schwarze, 36, of Aiea and Desiree Marvin, 31, of Alexandria, Virginia, arrived at Lihue Airport on a flight from Oahu on Friday, police said. They were informed that the emergency order required them to go directly to their place of lodging.

But police say they were seen driving in the opposite direction. At a traffic stop, they were again told of the requirement to go straight to their accommodations.

According to police, the two were then seen at the Princeville Foodland, where they were arrested. They were taken to the cellblock and later posted bail.

Violation of the mandatory quarantine order carries a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to a year in jail.

State lawmakers seek Hawaii National Guard enforcement

State Sen. J. Kalani English and Rep. Lynn DeCoite asked Gov. David Ige in a letter to deploy the Hawaii National Guard to the rural areas of East Maui, Hana, Molokai and Lanai.

The legislators want the Guard to help enforce travel restrictions in the remote areas that have limited access to medical care and where any coronavirus outbreak would be "devastating to the heath and well-being of our constituency," they said.

Hawaii Guard units have already been used at the airports and checkpoints on Kauai to enforce the state and county quarantine and stay-at-home orders.

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

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