The Latest: 114 New Cases; Roth Recovering In Hilo; Arts At Marks Garage Faces New Challenges

Jan 12, 2021

Updated 1/12/21, 12 p.m.

Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth is still recovering at Hilo Medical Center from a heart attack he suffered over the weekend. County officials say a second evaluation is underway as doctors continue to monitor his condition.

Roth suffered the heart attack on Saturday evening in South Kohala. He was tranported to North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital and later to Hilo Medical Center, where he was treated, and a stent implanted.

"My wife Noriko and I are humbled by the outpouring of support and aloha we have received from our island community," said Roth. "I am confident that I will be back to full health very soon. In the meantime, I know my team will continue to work tirelessly to serve our community in my stead."

Where we stand

The state Department of Health reported 114 new cases and no new fatalities on Tuesday.

According to the state's numbers, Oʻahu had 83, Maui 21, Hawaiʻi Island 4, and Kauaʻi, Lanai and Molokaʻi had no new cases. 6 residents were diagnosed out of state.

The latest state count brings the Oʻahu total to 19,389, Hawaiʻi County 2,030, Maui 1,331, Kauaʻi 167, Lanai 106, and Molokaʻi 25. The number of out-of-state cases totals 579.

Since the pandemic began, the state has tallied 23,627 cases. The death toll stands at 309.

New Study: Different El Niño events have different rainfall impacts

When it comes to the weather, not all El Niño events are the same. And that may have different impacts on winter rainfall in the state.

In the last decade, studies have found there are at least two different types of of El Niño events -- where the warmest water temperatures are located either in the Eastern or Central Pacific.

A recent study fromt he University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa found that while El Niño usually mean winter droughts in the islands, the type of event doesn't guarantee less rainfall.

Researchers examined more than 50 years of weather data, and found that droughts in Hawaiʻi are only caused by Eastern El Niño events. While Central Pacific events only cause droughts 60% of the time.

"Historically, they just say El Niño, and they expect to see low rainfall," said Pao-Shin Chu, co-author of the study. "But in this case, that could be more like a false alarm."

Chu says this information can help local agencies, such as the Board of Water Supply, state Department of Agriculture and Department of Land and Natural Resources -- especially to prepare for future climate and water management.

"Beyond these agencies, ranchers, flower growers and other stakeholders that are concerned with the relationship between El Niñ0 and water supply in Hawaiʻi may also benefit from the new findings."

Chu says in the last decade Central Pacific El Niño events have happened more frequently.

-- HPR's Casey Harlow

Utah visitor arrested twice on Kauaʻi

Kauaʻi police have arrested 50-year-old David Barnes of Bountiful, Utah twice for violating the state's 10-day quarantine. Barnes was arrested on December 28 and January 5.

Barnes arrived on Kauaʻi on December 28 after traveling from Utah, and was told by officials to quarantine at an approved accommodation for 10 days, as required. He did not have arrangements when he arrived, and made reservations at the Sheraton Coconut Beach Resort in Kapaʻa. Barnes was allowed to leave the airport once his reservation was confirmed.

However, officials say Barnes left the airport and went, by foot, to the Līhuʻe Costco. KPD arrested Barnes for violating the state's emergency COVID-19 rules. He was later released on $1,000 bail and required to complete his travel quarantine.

Barnes checked in to the Kauaʻi Inn in Līhuʻe shortly after his release. Additional reports led to Barnes's arrest on January 5 for three more counts of violating state and county emergency COVID-19 rules and one count of simple trespass.

Barnes is currently being held at the Kauaʻi  Community Correction Center.

Arts at Marks Garage faces new financial challenges

One of Downtown Honolulu's leading art spaces is facing a new level of challenge. A year ago, arts supporters and business interests in Chinatown joined forces to rescue The Arts at Marks Garage.

Exhibitions and activities continued as they could throughout the pandemic, but after 11 months of full and partial closures, the venue has now run out of money.

The Executive Director and sole staff member have been let go, but gallery hours and programs will be maintained by volunteers according to Arts at Marks board chair Kim Taylor Reece.

"Everybody is really committed, we're not going to give up on it," Reece said. "It's something that's really, really important to the community. It's important to the new artists coming up, it's important to people who want to learn now to act or experiment with their acting."

Reece says they are thinking of new ways to reinvigorate the operation. She says they hoping to bring in a coffee cart next to the library, which can help deliver coffee to offices.

"We've got a plan, and we're going to go forward with it."

Reece says Arts partners like the Friends of the Library contribute to rent space, and the Arts at Marks' 1001 Friends is looking for monthly contributions of any kind.

Volunteers are needed to sit the current show, which features art by the people in Chinatown, including a neighborhood restauranteur and an HPD officer.

-- HPR's Noe Tanigawa