Hawaii Updates: Kaka'ako Testing, Most Cases Residents Not Visitors, Walmart To Hire Local Employees

5 hours ago

Today,  from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the City and County of Honolulu is holding a drive-through screening program in Kaka‘ako Waterfront Park, but only for those with flu-like symptoms in certain jobs.

Those eligible must be symptomatic (dry cough, fever, trouble breathing) and returned from travel, work in health professions, skilled nursing facilities, waste management, jails or correctional facilities or work with the homeless or are first responders. Also travel-related employees like bellmen, housekeeping, TSA, flight attendants and rideshare/cab drivers with symptoms could qualify.

Participants must agree to self-quarantine until results are returned, about 3 to 5 days, said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Those seeking testing should anticipate a wait; about 1,500 people are expected. Enter the park from Ilalo Street at Ward Avenue and Ala Moana.

On Monday, March 23, the Maui County will hold a drive-through testing site at the War Memorial Gym parking lot, 700 Halia Nakoa St. for those with flu-like symptoms. You must make an appointment at (808) 270-7228. Calls will be answered from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Saturday, March 21.

DOH: Most cases are residents, not visitors

The state Department of Health issued a statement Friday night pointing out that of the 37 confirmed and presumed positive coronavirus cases in Hawaii, 32 involve residents who contracted the illness while traveling.

"I have been informed that there are residents of Hawai‘i who believe the COVID-19 positive cases here are all visitors to the state, and unfortunately, there is stigma developing against visitors in Hawaii," said department spokesperson Janice Okubo. "The majority of cases are residents who returned home after traveling."

Yesterday, a small caravan of vehicles flying Hawaii flags drove down Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki showing signs that urged visitors to go home. Okubo said residents, including students who are returning home, should monitor their health for 14 days and stay at home if they become sick, avoiding others.  

Gov. David Ige has been urged by state and local leaders to take more aggressive steps in stemming COVID-19, including ordering residents to shelter-in-place and imposing mandatory quarantine on visitors.

Walmart Hiring As Buying Spikes

In response to strong demand amid the coronavirus pandemic, Walmart will increase its workforce by tens of thousands in the United States, filling hundreds of positions in Hawaii.

The Arkansas-based multinational retail company announced plans Friday to offer employees cash bonuses and to hire about 150,000 associates for its stores nationwide, including about 400 positions in Hawaii in the coming months.

The company is looking for employees until the end of May to work in stores, distribution centers and fulfillment centers, Hawaii News Now reported. Positions are temporary, but could convert to permanent roles over time.

The hiring process is usually two weeks, but is expected to be sped up to a 24-hour process for crucial positions such as cashiers and stockers, company officials said.

See yesterday's updates: Cases at 37, 2 Community-Spread; Ige Urged To Take Stricter Steps

“We know millions of Americans who are usually employed at this time are temporarily out of work, and at the same time we’re currently seeing strong demand in our stores,” Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “We’re looking for people who see Walmart as a chance to earn some extra money and perform a vital service to their community.”

The announcement comes as people across the country are being laid off because of an economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms. But for the elderly and people with existing conditions, it can cause more severe illness. The vast majority of those who are infected recover.

All U.S. hourly associates in stores, clubs, supply chain and offices on the employee roster as of March 1 should expect to receive a bonus, company officials said. The bonus will be $300 for full-time hourly associates and $150 for part-time hourly associates, combining for more than $365 million, officials said.

Walmart expects to pay out those bonuses on April 2, the Garden Island reported.

The company has also announced plans to accelerate the next scheduled quarterly bonus a month early for store, club and supply chain associates.

According to its website, there are more than 3,800 associates in Hawaii across 12 company locations, including two Sam's Clubs.

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