The Latest: Interisland Travel Quarantine Resumes; City Hall Cluster Grows to 10

Aug 11, 2020

Updated: 8/11/2020, 5:26 p.m.

Where we stand

The Hawaii Department of Health reported 118 new cases of COVID-19 today, the 13th straight day of triple-digit daily cases. The latest cases bring the state total to 3,756.

Out of the state's total count, 3,361 cases are on Oahu, 190 on Maui County, 133 on Hawaii County, and 49 on Kauai County. There have been 23 residents diagnosed outside of the state. One case was recategorized from Honolulu to Hawaii Island and one from Honolulu was removed based on updated information.

Yesterday, 140 new cases and three deaths were reported. One was an elderly Oahu female and the other two were elderly Oahu men, one of whom had underlying health conditions. The fatalities bring the death toll to 34.

Among the latest cases:

• Another TheBus operator tested positive, for COVID-19, Oahu Transit Services confirned today. OTS operates the bus and handivan system for the city. The case brings the total positive cases for TheBus and TheHandi-Van to 6. The operator informed OTS on Sunday that a household member had tested positive and was placed on leave and quarantined. On Monday, the operator was tested and received positive results the same day. The driver last worked on Saturday and was asymptomatic. The routes driven, all on bus 205, were route #415 (Kapolei Transit-Kalaeloa) 1:32 p.m. to 1:54 p.m., 7:26 p.m. to 7:48 p.m.; #41 ( Kapolei-Ewa Beach) 2 p.m. to 3:29 p.m., 4 p.m. to 5:33 p.m., 6:05 p.m. to 7:26 p.m., 8 p.m. to 9:19 p.m.; #415 (Kapolei Transit-Kalaeloa) 3:29 p.m. to 3:56 p.m. and 5:33 p.m. to 6:05 p.m. OTS said its internal contact tracing found the driver had no prolonged contact with employees or customers.

• The Hawaii Department of Public Safety reported that another Oahu Community Correctional Center inmate tested positive, bringing the total to six inmates and three adult correctional officers who have contracted COVID-19 at OCCC. The Department of Health is said to be conducting contact tracing of the cases.

• Two more firefighters from the Kalihi Kai Fire Station and one additional firefighter from the Hawaii Kai Fire Station have tested positive for COVID-19. The firefighters were already in self-quarantine when their tests were conducted. The Honolulu Fire Department currently has 14 firefighters who have tested positive: 6 from the Hawaii Kai station, 3 from the Moanalua station, and 5 from the Kalihi Kai station. All remain in self-quarantine. The department is redistributing its staff to maintain coverage in affected areas, it said in a release.

DeCoite prevails over Ritte in recount

A recount of the votes in the race for state House District 13 handed a win to incumbent Rep. Lynn DeCoite.

She defeated long-time activist Walter Ritte in the primary election by a margin of just 93 votes.
That’s according to the recount tally released today by the state Office of Elections.

A precinct breakdown shows DeCoite winning a majority of the votes on Lāna’i and Moloka’i, while Ritte dominated in the East Maui communities of Pāia, Haikū, and Hāna.

DeCoite will face Republican candidate Robin Vanderpool in the general election in November.

Interisland quarantine for Neighbor Islands restarts

The mandatory 14-day interisland quarantine restarts today for those traveling into Maui, Kauai, Big Island and Kalawao counties as the Neighbor Islands try to fend off further spread of COVID-19, primarily from Oahu. 

Residents from the Neighbor Islands arriving on Oahu will not need to quarantine but they will be subject to quarantine when they return home unless they apply for and receive an exemption from their home county. Neighbor Islanders traveling to another Neighbor Island are also required to quarantine on arrival. 

All trans-Pacific travelers, including those from the Mainland and from other countries, are still required to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive and must complete the State of Hawaii Traveler Health Form before boarding their flight to Hawaii.

The forms needed for each county differ from each other and the requests for exemptions from quarantine are being handled differently.

• For Maui County, the county is requiring one form for air travelers arriving at Kahului Airport main terminal, Lanai Aiprort and Molokai Airport and another form for those arriving at the Kahului Airport commuter terminal, Kahului Airport private jet area, Lahaina and Manele Small Boat Harbors and Kapalua Airport.

Those seeking a modified quarantine exemption if traveling to Maui County must email covidexemption@hawaii.gov. Those wanting a modified quarantine based on essential work purposes or medical reasons, must fill out a Mandatory Travel Form and the Request For Limited Quarantine Form. The latter form must be completed at least five days before a passenger's departure.

There will be personnel at the airports and harbors to help travelers complete the forms and answer questions on Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

"It is going to take time to work out all of the kinks and procedures for this new interisland travel system, so we're asking for everyone's patience and help to make this a success," said Mayor Michael Victorino in a media release.

The mayor says the county continues to discourage any nonessential travel but those who do have to travel should fill out the required forms.

• For County of Hawaii, the travel forms required are those to request modified or full exemption from the 14-day quarantine requirements. The only eligible exemptions are those for people traveling for a same-day medical appointment or those traveling to the county for critical infrastructure functions.

The exemption forms must be filled out at least five days before the scheduled arrival date. Exemptions are not being granted for travel to visit family or friends, funeral services or personal tasks, such as work on a property.

For County of Kauai, only modified exemptions from quarantine can be requested. Those seeking modified exemptions can go to the county's website and click on the Modified Quarantine Request link for a survey form. Requests must be submitted at least two days before travel and one application must be filled out for each person in the party.

The exemptions granted will be limited, such as for critical infrastructure jobs and for those who must travel for medical reasons.

Honolulu Hale closed as COVID-19 cluster there grow to 10

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and other employees at Honolulu Hale self-isolated and underwent tests yesterday in response to a positive case in the office of the mayor. It is the latest case of an employee working at the City Hall testing positive. The number of cases in the Honolulu Hale cluster now stands at 10.

Caldwell said in a tweet that he tested negative.

Honolulu Hale will remain closed until further notice as offices are sanitized, and with city workers working remotely when possible through Sept. 6. The building remains open for those making tax payments, dropping off procurement bids and inquiring about voting at the City Clerk's office. All three can be completed on the first floor.

All employees who work on the grounds are being tested for COVID-19 due to the new cases at City Hall. Some 87 employees in Honolulu Hale were tested last week after a staffer with City Council services tested positive and Council Chair Ikaika Anderson arranged for testing.

During a press conference yesterday, Caldwell said the Honolulu Hale cluster of 10 brings the total number of city employees testing positive to 48 since March, including 13 at the Honolulu Fire Department; 9 in Budget and Fiscal Services, 9 with the Honolulu Police Department, 3 at the Board of Water Supply; 2 in Environmental Services, 2 in Parks and Recreation, 2 in Emergency Services, 2 in Community Services and 1 each in Design and Construction, Human Resources, Facility Maintenance, City Clerk's Office, Enterprise Services and the mayor's office.

Caldwell says some city functions will continue operating, but by arrangement only.

"It does not mean that our satellite city halls will be closed," he said. "In fact, they will remain open, but for appointment only for critical things, like renewing your driver's license or getting your driving test completed."

Stringent protocols have been in place for satellite city halls, and that's why they will remain open, the mayor said.

There will be no in-person meetings with the Department of Planning and Permitting at the Frank Fasi Municipal Building. But those needing permits can visit the permit center to drop off documents in marked bins and pick up and pay fees for approved permits.

Other DPP information is available at www.honoluludpp.org

The City Council meeting scheduled for Wednesday has been moved to Aug. 19. Council committee meetings scheduled for next week have also been rescheduled to Aug. 25, 26 and 27, the council said in a news release.

The council plans to sanitize its offices and meeting rooms this week, including areas where affected employees worked. Another testing clinic will be held today at Honolulu Hale.

Chair Anderson directed employees of legislative offices to halt in-person meetings at Honolulu Hale to ensure best safety practices.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

UH students to get back most of athletic fee, tuition unchanged

University of Hawaii students will be refunded most of their $50 athletic fee. This follows the announcement that the fall football season has been canceled.

But tuition remains the same, even though the UH announced plans to further reduce the presence of students, faculty and staff on its campuses.

“So, last semester, we established a fee policy that said, if some or all of a service could not be provided, then that portion of the fee would be refunded," UH President David Lassner explained yesterday during an online press conference.

"And so there are certain things funded with the athletic fee that can be provided in an offline manner, similar with many of our student activities. So that's the approach we've taken and we haven't second guessed that for this fall."

He added: "We will not be reducing tuition. Our costs are not going down. In fact, they are mostly going up. But more importantly, we believe we are providing that relationship with our superb faculty that does constitute a high quality UH education.” He said UH tuition remains highly cost effective, especially for Hawaii residents.

The university, along with all state agencies and departments, are facing deep cuts as the pandemic takes its toll across the economy.

Lassner said the university’s operating budget is made up almost entirely of general funds from the state, which itself is facing a $2.3 billion shortfall for the current biennium.

Meanwhile, tuition revenue is also falling. Although the UH hopes to build up attendance, Lassner says the recent surge in COVID-19 cases isn't helping the university attract more students.

Decisions about the spring sports season are still to come. 

--HPR's Sandee Oshiro

This is a developing story. Please check back for upates. 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.