Updated: 7/13/2020, 3:45 p.m.
Gov. David Ige said today the state will extend the travel quarantine another month, delaying plans to ease restrictions on visitors if they test negative before taking their flights to the islands. The moratorium on evictions that prevents renters from being forced out of homes for nonpaymet of rent will also be pushed to Sept. 1.
The state had planned on Aug. 1 to allow those with negative pre-flight tests to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all trans-Pacific arrivals, which covers both visitors and returning residents.
Ige said at a press conference today that the recent spike in cases on the Mainland and the reduced availability of tests because of the surge in demand both factored into the decision to push back the Aug. 1 date.
But the governor said public schools will still open as planned on Aug. 4 and endorsed a blended model that rotates students onto campuses on some days of the week with distance learning on the other days to help keep the virus from spreading.
University of Hawaii President David Lassner also announced a modified plan to welcome students at all colleges in Hawaii back to campus with more protections in place, including limiting contact with others outside of a "bubble" of acquaintances.
The four county mayors and Lt. Gov. Josh Green, an emergency room doctor, had all urged the governor to hold off on the pre-flight testing plan, at least until additional safety measures can be put in place, such as a second test after tourists arrive.
Meanwhile, three new deaths and 23 new COVID-19 cases announced today have dramatically impacted the coronavirus toll for Hawaii. For Saturday, Sunday and today there have been 86 additional cases, the state Department of Health said. Of today's new cases, 19 are on Oahu, 1 on Hawaii Island, 1 on Maui and 2 diagnosed out of state.
The state's total coronavirus case count now stands at 1,243 with 22 deaths. Oahu has 942 cases, Maui County has 135, Hawaii County has 102 and Kauai County has 43. Twenty-one residents have been diagnosed outside of the state. Some 911 people have been released from isolation.
"The best tribute to their lives and to the lives of all 22 people who’ve lost the fight against coronavirus, is getting everyone in Hawai‘i to take personal responsibility for their own health and the health of everyone around them,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson in a statement.
Among those who died was an elderly Kauai resident who was being treated in Arizona for underlying medical conditions. On Sunday, a female who had previously been a care home resident died in an Oahu hospital. The third death occurred on July 7. He was an elderly Oahu man who also had underlying medical issues. His death was added to the total after a review of his health history and discussions with his physician.
The 42 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday was the most Hawaii infections recorded in a single day since the outbreak began in spring. It followed Tuesday's 41 infections, which was the previous daily high.
Most of the new cases are associated with existing clusters, the health department said. The number tied to a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant training is now up to 44 cases. One person in that group is tied to the 20 infections at two Oahu gyms.
Other clusters have been tied to pau hana gatherings, businesses, urgent care and long-term care facilities, and household clusters associated with birthday parties, Father’s Day celebrations, July 4th events and religious functions, the state said.
Officials are also tracking three separate clusters at the Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe as well as "sporadic cases" that more than likely reflect community spread occurring on the Windward side of Oahu, said the state's Joint Information Center Saturday.
To date, 12 cases connected to the state hospital have been confirmed. As a precaution, the state tested at least 46 potential contacts in the clusters and all proved negative.
According to media reports yesterday, a cluster at the Pearl City Nursing Home involves six residents and two staff thus far. Residents and workers will be retested.
A Nuuanu YMCA employee and a related person, a YMCA member, have both tested positive, according to the YMCA of Honolulu. They are not related to the breakouts in the Oahu gyms and a YMCA statement says the health department considers the cases the result of household transmission and not acquired at the YMCA.
Nuuanu YMCA members and program participants were not in close contact with either of the individuals, according to the statement.
Surge in Hawaii Island food needs anticipated
The Food Basket, Hawaiʻi Islandʻs food bank, is expecting a second wave of demand for assistance at the end of July. Thatʻs when additional unemployment benefits for some are set to expire.
The extra $600 per week in unemployment pay has helped Big Island families put food on the table during the COVID-19 crisis.
Kristin Frost Albrecht, executive director of the Food Basket, says demand has more than quadrupled since the pandemic first hit.
"What weʻre expecting is that the need will continue at either the current rate, or when unemployment ends and that extra $600 that people are getting that ends in July, that we will see a spike because a lot of the jobs have not returned," she said. "So that [for] many people, it might have kept them able to pay their bils and able to purchase groceries. And I expect that that probably should go away come August.'
Last month, the organization provided food for more than 60,000 island residents through itʻs new ʻOhana Food Distribution Drops.
Albrecht says the biggest challenge now is finding enough money to purchase the food, which last month cost the organization more than $400,000.
--HPR's Ku'uwehi Hiraishi
More visitors arriving despite quarantine requirement
Saturday's arrivals totaled 2,296 people, including 635 residents and 600 visitors. The state’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine remains in effect for both tourists and returning residents, but numbers continue to edge up in both categories.
Others among the arrivals are 265 crew members, 245 transiting travelers, 245 military members, 145 people exempt from quarantine, and 164 who say they are relocating to the islands.
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 email@example.com.