Updated: 10/26/2020, 12:15 p.m. Gov. David Ige has approved a stay-at-home order and travel restrictions on Lanai beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. The order would require travelers and visitors to remain at home or in their lodgings except for essential reasons such as grocery shopping.
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said the order would remain in effect initially for two weeks, but could be extended if Lanai COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
The outbreak on Lanai has increased to 79 cases, according to the state Department of Health today, but could grow into three digits, health experts predict.
The health department reported no deaths and 38 new COVID-19 cases. Case counts can be lower following a weekend. They have been running in the three digits in recent days, driven in part by the expanding outbreak on Lanai and larger numbers on the Big Island.
The latest count brings the total number of COVID cases during the pandemic to 14,709. The death toll stood at 212.
Hawaii Island had 9 new cases followed by 26 for Oahu, none for Maui County and one in Kauai County. Two more cases were diagnosed out of state. One case from Oahu was removed from the counts due to updated information.
Oahu has now had 12,864 cases, Hawaii Island 1,230, Maui County 497 (including 401 on Maui, 17 on Molokai and 79 on Lanai) and Kauai 62. Fifty-six cases have been diagnosed out of state.
Kauai's single new case repeorted Sunday was the result of a Kauai resident testing positive for COVID-19 after voluntarily taking a post-travel test after a trip to the U.S. mainland.
The adult male had tested negative before returining to Kauai through the state's Safe Travels program. No sooner than 72 hours after arrival, residents and visitors can take a post-arrival test sponsored by the county.
The county's second test is free for returning residents while vistors are charged for the test.
“The county’s post-travel testing program adds another layer of protection for our community, and we are thankful that this resident was responsible and considerate to participate on his own accord,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami in a statement yesterday. “Although it’s not required, we encourage everyone – residents and visitors – to take a post-test especially if you have recently traveled out of state.”
Arrivals since Safe Travels pre-test launch stabilizing
Trans-Pacific arrivals have leveled off to between 5,000 and 6,000 daily in the past week, according to figures from the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Prior to the pandemic, the state received about 30,000 passengers each day.
When the state's Safe Travels pre-travel testing program launched on Oct. 15, arrivals of trans-Pacific passengers were as high as 8,300 in the initial days. Passengers who take a COVID-19 test before their arrival and receive negative results can skip the mandatory 14-day travel quarantine.
Since reopening to tourism with the option to avoid the quarantine and through Saturday, the state has received 65,449 passengers. Those coming for pleasure or vacation totaled 26,837. Returning residents numbered 10,559 while those who say they are visiting friends or family totaled 11,581.
Other reasons given for traveling to Hawaii include corporate meetings, essential work, military or federal government work, to attend school, among other categories.
The tourism authority's numbers do not include interisland travel. Those flying between counties can also avoid the quarantine by taking a pre-flight test. All of the counties except the City and County of Honolulu ask that those arriving on their islands a second test a few days after arrival. The second tests for Kauai and Maui are voluntary and mandatory for Hawaii Island.
Police to issue more warnings than citations for COVID-19 violations
As Honolulu continues to reopen, Police Chief Susan Ballard says officers will return to warnings rather than giving citations for violations of the city’s COVID-19 rules.
Since September 20th, 33,ooo people have been warned and 31,000 citations have been issued for COVID violations. Ballard says a majority were given to residents.
She says officers were held to a certain standard in enforcing the rules – especially during Oahu’s second lockdown.
"We never said that they couldn’t give warnings, but during the lockdown period, yes, citations were encouraged because people were not learning. They were not following the rules," she said. "And since the reopening, we’ve gone back to doing warnings again, because this is their opportunity to redeem themselves, and us as a community, to see if we can follow the rules. And as long as the numbers stay down, and we continue moving through the various tiers, our primary will be warnings."
The tiers are the city's phased reopening strategy that aims to ease restrictions if the coronavirus case count and community positivity rate remain at a certain level.
Ballard says the Honolulu Police Department has started logging the coronavirus rule warnings in a database. People will receive a citation if they were warned in the past.
She says the department is also concerned about visitors breaking the rules, but believes the larger hotels are doing a good job of educating their guests about the city’s rules.
--HPR's Casey Harlow
Ige nominates new Hawaii Supreme Court justice
Gov. David Ige has nominated First Circuit Judge Todd Eddins to the state’s highest court.
If confirmed by the state Senate, Eddins would succeed Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Richard Pollack, who retired in June. Eddins would maintain the court’s liberal majority.
Before his appointment to the First Circuit in 2017, Eddins litigated criminal cases in private practice. He was also a trial attorney with the state public defender’s office and clerked for the late Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Yoshimi Hayashi.
The Senate has 30 days to reject Eddin’s nomination, although it is rare for senators to block a governor's judicial choice. But if they do, the governor has 10 days to select a new nominee.
--HPR's Ashley Mizuo