Hawaii Updates: Masks Now Required In Oahu Gyms; 1 New Death, 17 Cases; Douglas 1st Storm Of Season

Jul 22, 2020

Updated: 7/22/20 at 5:55 p.m.

Face masks are now required while working out in Oahu gyms, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said today.

Gov. David Ige approved the mayor's request to amend the city’s Restore Honolulu order setting out COVID-19 restrictions.

The order takes effect immediately. Caldwell says to avoid any exercise that is too strenuous such that it will cause taking off the mask.

The city said that the gyms will be responsible for enforcing the revised order.

Hurricane Douglas churns closer to Big Island

Hurricane Douglas is now a category 2 storm and continues to approach the islands. As of 5 p.m. this afternoon, Douglas was located 1,565 miles east of Hilo. Forecasters expect it will cross into the Central Pacific Thursday night or Friday and become the first major storm of the season for Hawaii.

To prepare for hurricane season, city officials are revising their safety policies for emergency shelters in light of COVID-19.

Emergency Management Deputy Director Jennifer Walter says the department has been working on plans for a couple of months.

"We’re looking at a list of shelters we normally open. We’re making sure that there’s classrooms available if someone is symptomatic, that we can isolate them from the rest of the shelter, according to the shelter screening procedures," she said.

"So we have a couple of limiters. One is will there be enough space -- that’s very hard to predict -- we’re trying to do six feet in between family units. So it does have impact on our capacity."

Walter advises families to develop a plan because emergency shelters should be a last resort if residents need to evacuate.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

Where we stand

The Hawaii Department of Health reported 17 new COVID-19 cases today. One new death was also reported today, bringing the state total to 25. All 17 of the new cases are on Oahu.

The state's total case count now stands at 1,435. Oahu has 1,1117 cases, Maui County has 139, Hawai’i County has 114, and Kauai County has 43. About 154 people have required hospitalization. There are 22 residents who were diagnosed out of state. Some 1,113 people have been released from isolation.

California couple arrested in quarantine violation case

Special agents with the state Department of the Attorney General arrested a California couple for alleged violation of the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule.

The department said Daniel George Kanaan, 46, and Lira Kanaan, 48, of Walnut Creek, California, were arrested yesterday after residents of Waimanalo reported their activities. Bail for each was set at $2,000. They posted bail and were then released.

Primary turnout hard to predict as mail ballots begin arriving

State Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago won’t predict what the turnout might be for this year’s primary on August 8th. He says even Hawaii’s previous mail ballot elections don’t make it easy to guess at the turnout. 

“In 2003, we had a special election for Patsy Mink’s seat – I think it was 18% turnout. In 2010, we had a special election for CD 1 (1st Congressional District) by mail -- 55%, 18% -- big difference. So our goal is to make voting as accessible and convenient as possible for voters to vote.”

Hawaii’s election turnout rates have been among the worst in the country. In the 2016 primary, only about a third of Hawaii’s registered voters cast a ballot.

Once voters get their ballots over the next two weeks, Nago says they should fill them out, sign them and send them in.

It can take several days for a ballot to get to officials by the 7 p.m. deadline on election day. So voters should plan to get it into the mail as least three to five days ahead of Aug. 8, election officials advise.

Neighbohood polling places where voters used to cast their ballots won’t be open – they’ve been replaced by mail ballots.

Starting Monday, eight voter service centers will be open for those who want to vote in person. Operating hours through Aug. 7 will be Monday through Saturday (excluding Sundays) from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On primary election day, the centers open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  

For more voter information, including a sample ballot based on your address, go to the state elections website.

--HPR's Sandee Oshiro

Kauai County offices to resume normal operating hours 

Starting Monday, County of Kauai offices will return to operating five days a week, Monday through Friday, from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The county had been operating four days a week, 10 hours a day as part of a phased reopening to curtail the spread of COVID-19. 

The offices will maintain safety protocols, including social distancing and requiring masks at all times. Some services may be provided on an appointment-only basis. 

More information is available on the county's website.

Returning residents exceed 1,000 -- almost double visitor arrivals

Monday airport arrivals totaled 2,703 passengers, including 607 visitors and 1,168 returning residents. All are subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Others among the arrivals were 288 crew members, 147 transiting travelers, 211 military members, 158 passengers exempt from quarantine and 124 who say they are relocating to Hawaii.

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 talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.