Hawaii Updates: Hale Nani Cases Total 15, Company-Run Center In Utah Reports 10 Dead; 4 New Cases

Jun 22, 2020

Updated: 6/22/2020, 3:37 p.m.

The total number of COVID-19 cases at Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Home in Makiki now stands at 15 with the addition of three positive cases at the state's largest skilled nursing home facility.

Of the nine residents who have tested positive, five have been hospitalized, the facility said in an update on its website on Sunday. The remaining four residents are isolated in Hale Nani's COVID unit.

Six staff workers have also been infected. They are self-isolating at home, according to the facility, and will not return to the job until medically cleared. Employees are screened and their temperatures checked before their shifts, Hale Nani said. Anyone showing symptoms of the virus is sent home, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Hale Nani is part of the Avalon Health Care Group that operates in Hawaii, California, Washington, Nevada, Utah and Oregon. Avalon also operates the state-owned William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home in Utah, where there has also been a COVID-19 outbreak. Ten people have died there, the facility reported as of June 19, and 51 residents have tested positive as of May 18.

The latest three cases at Hale Nani were discovered during testing on Saturday. Another round of testing of residents and staff is scheduled for this week.

"We are working diligently to limit the spread of the virus to other residents of the facility and are communicating this news to our residents, staff, and their loved ones," according to the facility.

Hale Nani said it is has been following infection control protocols of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Center for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services since March.

Residents are confined to their rooms as much as possible and face coverings are required when they are not in their rooms. Visits have been limited to those that are essential and families are encouraged to keep in touch with their loved ones by phone and video chats.

--HPR's Sandee Oshiro

Help with household expenses still available for Oahu residents

City officials expect more demand for financial help from a COVID-19 fund for households, as federal aid programs start to sunset at the end of this month.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell established the Household Hardship Relief Program in May to help local families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic using $25 million in federal CARES Act funds.

Qualified households could receive up to $1,500 a month from the city for six months to help with such expenses as rent, mortgage, certain utilities and child care.

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates: 11 New Cases; Health Officials Say Lax Practices Led To Recent New COVID-19 Cases

Community Services Director Pamela Witty-Oakland says the city has received 1,700 applications and has denied only 64. But she believes there will be more need for relief in the coming months.

"The small business PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) funds that were covering payrolls is going to end on June 30. I think we'll see an uptick from that because folks are going to be without jobs into July. Also, the unemployment benefits that they're receiving, that additional $600 a week from the federal government, that's set to end on July 31. 

"So when that piece ends, I think we're going to have a cliff, people are going to fall off, and we want to be sure they know that the city is going to be able to provide a safety net to help address their household needs."

Witty-Oakland says there is roughly $23 million left from the city’s initial investment.

Aloha United Way and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement are helping process applications. More information about the fund and how to apply can be found at oneoahu.org.

Where we stand

The Hawaii Department of Health reported 4 new cases of COVID-19 today. All of the cases are Oahu adults. The cases include one new case at the Hale Nani Rehabilitaion and Nursing Center, which reported it on Sunday.

In addition, the health department reports it is investigating two additional cases at a Kaneohe care home. That brings the total number of cases associated with community care homes in three separate locations on Oahu to eight. Weekly testing as well as investigations are continuing at the sites.

Todayʻs single-digit new cases represent a noteworthy drop in recent days. Eleven new cases 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. Last week Saturday saw 17 cases and Friday 15 infections.

There is now a total of 816 total cases of COVID-19 after the state adjusted its count to remove two cases. The number of deaths remains at 17. Of the total cases, 99 have required hospitalization, which is up two from yesterday. This count includes Hawaii residents who were hospitalized out of state. Some 669 have been released from isolation.

The case count for Oahu now stands at 568, Maui County at 122, Hawaii County at 85, and Kauai County at 29. Kauai County's new 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 remaining cautious.

"We have investigated every case with positive test results and identified several household clusters over the last few days," said state Health Director Bruce Anderson in a news release Saturday. "The identification of these clusters and subsequent investigations resulted in the isolation and quarantine of cases and close contacts."

"These clusters reinforce the importance of maintaining safe practices, especially wearing masks and physically distancing when meeting with people outside your immediate ohana.”

The state has said that while the new cases are concerning, the healthcare system can handle the numbers thus far. 

On Saturday, there were seven new cases on Kauai, all in a single household where an infected person had been previously identified. Those testing positive were placed in quarantine and the Kauai District Health Office is continuing contact tracing to identify any additional cases.

Dr. Janet Berreman, Kaua’i District health officer, said of the seven cases, three are children. None of the seven have required hospitalization and all are asymptomatic or mildly ill. 

"As we move forward with more activities and in particular with more travel, we will no doubt see more cases," Berreman said.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami added that the return of COVID-19 was expected, "but it is disturbing, and it reinforces our need to be extremely careful to contain the spread."

Anderson: Jump in COVID-19 cases won't stop reopening

There have been several spikes in COVID-19 cases since Hawaii began reopening businesses.

But state Health Director Bruce Anderson says the larger numbers won’t necessarily halt the reopening.

"The hospital systems are able to handle the cases that we're seeing ... they're able to get the care they need. And we're not seeing a gradual increase in cases," he said.

"A doubling of cases over two intubation periods would be worrisome if we took the weekly median number of cases and we saw that rising regularly over time, which suggested community spread is continuing and that we would need to think about pause or possibly even going back and imposing additional requirements, mitigation measures."

That means officials are looking for a doubling of cases over two 14-day periods.

Anderson says even if new cases rise to a level that Hawaii saw at the start of outbreak, the state could still manage them. He says the state is nowhere near maximizing its capacity for contact tracing or testing.

Nevertheless, he says people should continue to wash their hands and avoid crowds.

--HPR's Ashley Mizuo

Saturday arrivals exceed 1,600

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reports 1,612 people arrived in Hawaii on Saturday, including 489 visitors and 442 returning residents.

Military arrivals totaled 215, crew members 187, transiting travelers 117, 88 relocating to Hawaii and 74 exempt from quarantine.

While Hawaii resident can travel interisland without a mandatory 14-day quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the requirement remains in place for those from out of state, at least through the end of July.

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.