Hawaii Updates: State Libraries Taking Precautions, Kawaiaha'o Church Cancels Services

Mar 14, 2020

The news on the Hawaii front of the coronavirus battle is swiftly changing. Here are live updates on local health, economic and societal impacts from the spread of COVID-19.

Updated: 3/14/20, 7:03 p.m.

Where Hawaii stands

City officials say a third Oahu case of the coronavirus has been confirmed. Alexander Zannes, city communications director, said officials were informed Saturday evening about the new case. This follows news of  two visitors who tested positive on Kauai. They have been isolated away from the general public, health officials said.

The Oahu case would bring the total number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Hawaii to five.

By focusing on the most serious cases, the state may be missing milder cases that could be infecting the community, critics say. The state says private labs that began testing this week for the coronavirus could address concerns, although hospitals and private labs are sending samples to the Mainland for testing -- a process that can take three days or longer compared to the state's 24-hour turnaround.

Officials estimate it will take two weeks or more before private labs receive certification from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to begin locally conducted tests on the samples they collect.

The state has also launched a sentinel or surveillance program that takes samples from doctors' offices and outpatient providers collected from those with respiratory symptoms to see if the coronavirus is spreading in the community.

From the first round of 62 tests this week , health officials said Saturday that all came back negative, indicating no detection of community spread statewide as yet. So far, the four positive cases in Hawaii have been travel-related. The details on the latest fifth case have not been released.

The state plans to eventually ramp up to 200 tests under the sentinel program. Health offiicals plan to randomly select the samples but adjust the collection so they represent the population at large. 

Hawaii state libraries cutting back on services

State libraries are canceling all programs and events at its 51 locations,  out of "an abundance of caution, and in the interest of everyone’s health and safety," it was announced Saturday. The changes will take effect March 16 through the end of the month.

Meetings rooms will be closed or rescheduled for gatherings by outside grouops; the Bookmobile services will be suspended; toys and other difficult-to-clean items will be removed from public areas; and patrons can have two automatic renewals on library items eligible for renewal.

Donations from the public won't be accepted at the libraries. 

The library system says digital resources, including e-books and e-audiobooks, online classes, and digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines are available 24/7 via its website.

Kawaiahaʻo Church cancels services

Kawaiahaʻo Church announced yesterday that it has canceled its services and sports activities in its gymnasium for the next 60 days effective immediately.

“We apologize for any inconvenience these closures may cause,” said Kahu Kenneth Makuakāne, senior pastor at Kawaiahaʻo Church in a statement. “However, after prayerful consideration and discussions with our Church Board, we decided this closure would be in the best interest for the health of our Church members and our greater community.”

Kahu Makuakāne will hold sermons every Sunday at 9 a.m. on Kawaiahaʻo Church’s Facebook page.

UH, faculty union form online workgroup 

The University of Hawaii and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly representing faculty are forming a workgroup to work out best practices as in-person classes are canceled and instruction moves online after the spring break.

"We are establishing a working group of faculty and administrators to make sure lines of communication are open and responsive. Membership of the working group will be finalized over the weekend and it will be able to discuss to address the details of this transition," Christian Fern, UHPA executive director, and Donald Straney, UH vice president for academic planning and policy, said in a new release last night.

The workgroup will look at proven approaches in teaching students remotely. Faculty are invited to send questions and feedback to COVID19@hawaii.edu for the workgroup to address.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. See yesterday's updates.