Updated: 5/26/2020, 12:05 p.m.
Where we stand
For the third day running, Hawaii recorded no new coronavirus cases today, continuing the trend in recent days of zero or few additional cases and spurring moves to reopen the economy.
The state health department now reports the number of recorded cases at 643; deaths stand at 17. The case count for Oahu is at 414, Maui County at 118, Hawaii Island at 81 and Kauai at 20. There are 10 cases diagnosed out of state. Some 593 people have been released from isolation.
North Shore partying brings out state, city police
State conservation and resources enforcement officers and Honolulu police cleared about 200 people from a beach party at the Kaena Point State Park on the North Shore Sunday night.
The gathering, in violation of the state's prohibition against large groups during the COVID-19 emergency, drew about 170 cars, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources in a news release.
Three DLNR Division of Conservation And Resources Enforcement officers, joined by five police officers, spent over four hours dispersing the crowd and directing the cleanup of the area. Due to the size of the crowd and the small number of officers on hand, the goal was to break up the crowd and clean the trash, DLNR said.
"Officers report that most people were compliant, but there were a couple of 'knuckleheads,' who wanted to argue and push their luck," according to the release. No citations were issued.
“This is exactly the kind of bad and selfish behavior we’ve all been asked repeatedly not to engage in during this emergency," said DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla yesterday.
"It’s unfortunate, that at least in the case of the Sunday night party, from our officer’s contact and observations of those involved, many were off duty military personnel. This is a day when we remember the sacrifices of the men and women who’ve given their lives in defense of our country and it's disappointing that the urge to socialize and party, at this particular time, overrides any obligation to duty and common sense,” Redulla said.
According to the state, large gatherings were also held Friday and Saturday nights. On Saturday morning, DOCARE officers cleaned up trash and pallets used in giant bon fires from the previous night. Open fires on beaches are illegal in Hawaii.
UH-Mānoa making SAT, ACT optional
The Univeristy of Hawai‘i-Mānoa is waiving the requirement for SAT and ACT test scores for first year students applying for the fall of 2021 as undergraduates.
The College Board that administers the SAT canceled the tests in May and June because of COVID-19, affecting high school students scheduled to graduate next year. ACT tests were also canceled because of the emergency.
“We want to make sure these students are not unfairly impacted by this unprecedented crisis,” said Ryan Yamaguchi, UH Mānoa associate director of admissions.
The exemption applies only to incoming 2021-2022 undergraduate applicants. They can choose to submit test scores as part of their admissions application or not.
Standardized tests are not required to apply at UH-Hilo, UH-West Oahu and UH community colleges.
Oahu bulky item collection program expands islandwide
Honolulu is expanding its appointments-only, bulky waste collections to the entire island.
The city started a pilot program for scheduled pickups last year. It required residents from Foster Village to Hawaii Kai to make appointments rather than wait for trucks to come by on certain days.
The Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina called the program a success. She says it’s a better way to handle big items collecting on sidewalks.
"We find that industrial injuries are down. It’s pretty much zero, the wear and tear on our vehicles and the street is down. The breakdowns of our equipment is minimal. We see an improvement in the cleanliness of the areas," Kahikina said.
"Our illegal hot spots are, they’re still there, but it’s minimal. Overtime of our staff is down, we just feel it’s the more efficient way of running the bulky program – instead of our staff driving through entire areas, searching for trash."
There is a lag time, however. Residents throughout Oahu can start making appointments on June 1st – but pickup won’t be until July.
More information can be found on the city's website or by calling 768-3200.
--HPR's Casey Harlow
Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra stable for now, looking ahead
The Hawai'I Symphony Orchestra (HSO) has been on hiatus since Neal Blaisdell Center suspended engagements in March due to the coronavirus emergency.
Executive Director Dave Moss says the symphony will remain intact through this season, thanks to a $750,000 CARES Act grant.
Sustained support in the community, he says, has them planning for future concerts, possibly in August.
"Small groups will come before large ones, outdoor events before concert halls, keeping mind all the social distancing necessary for those sorts of venues," he said.
"With the Czech Philharmonic we saw for the first time, woodwind players with face masks on that had little zippered openings so they could play the oboe. We saw this for the brass as well, so people are getting creative about how we get back to performing together."
Moss says the symphony is exploring a variety of performance options, including performances at the Waikiki Shell, a popular venue for symphony concerts in the past. More about free master classes and other online offerings by HSO musicians on the Hawaii Symphony can be found on symphony's Facebook page.
Disclosure: HPR President and General Manager Jose Fajardo recently joined the HSO board.
--HPR's Noe Tanigawa
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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