Hawaii Updates: Quarantine Lifts On Interisland Travel; 4 New Cases; About 1,700 Arrivals

Jun 16, 2020

Updated 06/16/20, 12:48 p.m.

Starting today, residents of Hawaii will be able to travel between islands without a mandatory 14-day quarantine. But when it comes to longer-distance travel, the timeline is much less certain.

Gov. David Ige says it’s taking time to set up a system that can safely handle a variety of passengers.

The governor also said his administration is continuing to work on allowing trans-Pacific travel without a quarantine but it is too early to predict when that may take place.

“Certainly we are working on a timeline, we want to get it done as quickly as possible. I think August would probably be more realistic," he said. "If we can get it done in July, we’ll get it done in July. But I think one thing that we’ve learned with the interisland activities is that there are many people that will be impacted as we bring trans-Pacific travelers back to the islands.”

He said it was a busy day at every major airport in the islands yesterday as they got ready for interisland travelers.

“A lot of what’s happening at the airports today is training for the employees that will be implementing this new process," he said. "There is some re-directing of the flow of passengers through the airports to try and separate those who would be subject to quarantine and those who would be traveling interisland."

Meanwhile, for those planning to visit another island, the governor advised passengers to arrive at the airport early.

The new health and travel form that interisland passengers must submit before their flight can be downloaded from the state health department website, filled in and brought to the airport.

--HPR's Bill Dorman

Where we stand

The Hawaii Department of Health reported 4 new cases of COVID-19 today. All are on Oahu. The increase follows Sunday's 5 new cases, Saturday's 17 cases and Friday's 15 infections.

There are now 740 total cases of COVID-19 in the state. The number of deaths remains at 17.

The case count for Oahu is at 505, Maui County at 120, Hawaii County at 82 and Kauai County at 21. Some 637 people have been released from isolation.

Arrivals in the state

1,769 people arrived in the state of Hawai’i yesterday. Of that number, 397 people were visitors, and 543 were returning residents, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Others in the total are 203 crew members, 140 travelers in transit, 232 military members, 143 who are exempt from quarantine and 111 who say they are relocating to Hawaii.

The state's mandatory 14-day quarantine remains in effect. That means all arrivals must self-quarantine for 14 days and not leave their lodging. Violators are subject to arrest and face possible fines and jail time. 

One patient, one worker test positive at Hale Nani 

The state Department of Health is investigating two COVID-19 cases tied to Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center -- the state’s largest skilled nursing facility.

One is a healthcare worker at Hale Nani who tested positive last week.

The other is a resident who was admitted to the Makiki facility before the worker tested positive.

Health Director Bruce Anderson says this is the first time a resident of a skilled nursing facility has been infected in the state.

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates: 8 New Cases; Catching An Interisland Flight? Get To Airport Early, State Advises

"The resident tested negative during the initial screening. All residents there are tested for COVID-19. But then [was] transferred to a hospital when they developed symptoms, and then was found to be positive," he said.

"So it’s possible that the individual was exposed before they got to ... the nursing home. And we’re still investigating that situation."

Anderson says he doesn’t believe the worker infected others at Hale Nani but staff and residents are being tested.

The Hale Nani patient is among eight new cases confirmed yesterday, all on Oahu.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

Mental health survey: third of Kauai residents worry about rent, mortgages

Over half of Kauai’s households say at least one person in their home has lost employment because of COVID-19 – and that has health officials concerned about the mental health of Garden Isle residents.

The Department of Health surveyed the community in April to evaluate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kauai households are relatively stable when it comes to housing, food and other basic needs.

But about a third of those surveyed say they are somewhat concerned or very concerned about meeting the next month’s rent or mortgage.

The island also saw a cluster of four suicides in May.

Health Director Bruce Anderson says recognizing the problem is a first step in addressing it.

“I don't have to tell anyone here that people are under a lot more stress than they normally would be. People don't have jobs, they're often worried about loved ones and just recognizing the problem is a huge part of this," he said.

"It's not clear whether the suicides that we're seeing there, and there are more than you would expect, are related directly to COVID. But I think they're possibly associated with this situation. Certainly this exacerbated the problems they may otherwise be having.”

Anderson said anyone who feels they need help should seek counseling. He said the state is providing mental health services at community health centers.

--HPR's Sandee Oshiro

ACLU Hawaii seeks passage of Equality Act

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision yesterday prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Hawaii has been ahead of the country when it comes to LGBTQ rights. But even in Hawaii, experts say there are numerous cases of LGBTQ discrimination.

Taylor Mangan, a legal fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai’i, says some people have been denied housing and healthcare because of their sexual orientation and gender.

So ACLU is calling on Congress to pass the Equality Act to further protect LGBTQ rights in situations beyond the workplace.

“So why we’re calling on Congress to pass the Equality Act is essentially because we still have gaps in our legal system for protections for LGBTQ people," she said. "Mainly we need to codify protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, credit, education and jury services as well as much needed protections for sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in public spaces and services as well as federally funded programs. That’s exactly what the Equality Act sets out to do."

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill in March 2019, but it has yet to pass the Senate.

--HPR's Amy Nakamura

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.