Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Hawaii in top 3 lowest COVID-19 infection rate, highest mask use; state looks to limit hotel rooms; Kauai makes masks mandatory; unemployment system meltdown irks legislators, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hilo Farmers Market during COVID-19 ©2020 All Hawaii News
Hawaii’s coronavirus infection rate among the lowest in the U.S. — so far. Despite the discouraging stream of announcements of new coronavirus cases that have been detected in Hawaii, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows that as of Monday this state had the third- lowest per capita infection rate of any state. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii ranked in top 3 mask wearing states according to geotagged Twitter data. KITV4.

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Hawaii explores deterring tourists by limiting hotel reservations. Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Incident Commander Kenneth Hara said today that Gov. David Ige’s administration is exploring further stemming the flow of visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic by disrupting their ability to make hotel reservations. Associated Press.

Hara Says Plan to Limit Visitor Lodging Options Under Discussion. The state can’t stop visitors from boarding planes bound for Hawai‘i, but it might be able to restrict lodging options for them once they arrive. Big Island Now.

Antibody testing may play key role in reopening tourism to Hawaii. A new blood test that reveals who’s immune to the coronavirus will likely play a key role in the state’s plan to allow visitors to return to Hawaii. It’s called an antibody test and involves a simple finger-prick. Hawaii News Now.

Local 5 Promotes ‘Safe Hotels, Safe Hawaii’ Program. The union’s goal is to keep hotels open while prioritizing public health. Civil Beat.

Senators wonder why Ige hasn’t asked Trump to ban nonessential travelers. The state’s emergency management director and the governor’s chief of staff told lawmakers Monday that despite the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, there is nothing they can do to stop nonessential travelers from coming into the state. Tribune-Herald.

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Low number of new COVID-19 cases has officials feeling good about response. The number of COVID-19 cases in Hawaii crossed the 500 mark Monday with one of the lowest numbers of new cases in several weeks. Star-Advertiser.

Officials say numbers show we’re flattening the curve. The state’s number of coronavirus cases rose by only five Monday. KHON2.

Hawaii Appears To Be Flattening The COVID-19 Curve — For Now. The data changes every day. But so far, Hawaii’s social-distancing measures appear to be slowing the epidemic, experts say. Civil Beat.

Hawaii sees just 5 new COVID-19 cases as talks about how to lift stay-at-home order begin. Hawaii reported just five new COVID-19 cases Monday in what Honolulu’s mayor called “very good news” — and proof stay-at-home restrictions are working. Hawaii News Now.

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State senators slam officials over COVID-19 response. Frustrated state senators Monday blasted Gov. David Ige’s chief of staff and some state department heads over a myriad of coronavirus-­related responses, including admitted lax tracking of arriving visitors, idled state workers not helping with backlogged unemployment claims and the prospect 631 nonessential state workers could join the army of unemployed private and gig workers in just over two weeks, when rents and mortgages are typically due. Star-Advertiser.

Tech chief briefs senators about progress on fixing beleaguered unemployment filing system. The state’s tech chief briefed the state Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 Monday on what’s being done to alleviate an outmoded and overloaded computer system handling unemployment claims, while the committee unloaded on the governor’s chief of staff about the pace of repurposing idled state employees to help take phone calls for the Unemployment Insurance Division. Tribune-Herald.

18 workers reassigned to help with jobless claims are only staying long enough to get trained. The state Labor Department can use all the help it can get processing the more than 220,000 unemployment claims filed since March 1. That’s why on Monday 18 workers from other state agencies were added to the department’s 83 staff members. Hawaii News Now.

Many of Hawaii’s jobless near the end of their emergency funds as they desperately await unemployment checks. Nearly 17 percent of Hawaii’s workforce has filed a claim – and that’s just the ones who have been successful. Since mass layoffs started, people have encountered delays, denials, and defects in the system. Hawaii News Now.

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Pandemic logistics expert outlines Hawaii’s path to restart economy. As Hawaii continues to flatten the curve of COVID-19, many are wondering what the next steps are to get the economy back open and running. KHON2.

Widespread testing and contact tracing data are needed before the economy can be reopened. That's what a panel of medical experts and economists told House leaders who are trying to develop a state recovery plan. KITV4.

Reopening Hawaii’s Economy Will Likely Be Slow and Painful. Economists and business and political leaders are preparing a roadmap to restart the shuttered economy. Civil Beat.

Date to Reopen Hawai‘i Economy a Distant, Moving Target. Economic leaders met Monday to discuss the reopening of Hawai‘i’s economy, but it appears any decision as to when the state can get back to business as usual remains in the distant future. Economic leaders met Monday to discuss the reopening of Hawai‘i’s economy, but it appears any decision as to when the state can get back to business as usual remains in the distant future. Big Island Now.

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Why Hawaii Can't Be Sure If It's Prepared For A COVID-19 Surge. Hawaii was poised to hit its peak coronavirus medical need as soon as this past weekend, according to one widely cited coronavirus research institute. Yet the local numbers continue to climb and are likely to exceed 500 this week, begging the question: why doesn't the state have a solid idea of when the surge will come and whether it is prepared? Civil Beat.

Early action helps Coast Guard keep virus at bay. As fallout continues from the outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt — with nearly 600 infected and one crew member dead — the Coast Guard appears to have had a close call, but that’s all, with the virus on the Honolulu-based cutter Midgett. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

1,350 Schofield soldiers start returning today from Thailand under COVID-19 monitoring. About 350 Schofield Barracks soldiers are returning today on two charter flights from abbreviated training in Thailand. Approximately 1,000 more are expected back later in the week. Star-Advertiser.

No more curfew for Oahu, Mayor says. Mayor Kirk Caldwell says for now future curfews are out of the picture.  KHON2.

Caldwell, Ballard put an end to weekend curfews. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Police Chief Susan Ballard said Monday the 11 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew imposed this past weekend was likely a one-time-only imposition. Star-Advertiser.

Fabric stores to open as essential businesses. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Monday he will allow fabric stores on Oahu to reopen as essential businesses, but on a limited basis. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu fabric stores are now essential businesses. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell made fabric stores an essential business on Monday. KHON2.

New Aloha Stadium project draws interest from companies. Aloha Stadium wasn’t open for business Monday due to COVID-19 restrictions, but interest in the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District project managed to draw about 200 participants from development and building industries to an online conference. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Authorities investigate cluster of coronavirus cases tied to Kona restaurant. A restaurant in Kona is closed for a thorough cleaning after eight people — employees and their family members — tested positive for COVID-19. Hawaii News Now.

Humane society opens pet pantries. The Hawaii Island Humane Society is opening Community Pet Pantries to provide pet food for those families impacted by COVID-19. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Second Maui cluster of virus cases possible, mayor says. Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino said there is another possible cluster of COVID-19 cases aside from the Maui Memorial Medical Center. Star-Advertiser.

Over one-third of Maui COVID-19 cases linked to Maui Memorial. Maui County cases rise to 84 over the weekend, including 31 workers and patients. Maui News.

Mayor Victorino COVID-19 Update: Maui Hospital Cluster Grows to 34 Positive. Maui Mayor Michael Victorino provides an afternoon update on Maui’s COVID-19 response in a 4 p.m. press conference. Maui Now.

Drop in energy demand greatest on Maui County. Average demand for electricity declined by 14 percent on Maui during the week of March 22, the biggest drop among three islands as electricity use fell during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai makes cloth masks required in public for everyone 5 and over. Under a new emergency order, everyone 5 and over will have to wear a cloth face mask on Kauai during most activities in public starting Tuesday. Hawaii News Now.

Masks now mandated. Mayor Derek Kawakami announced more rules for Kaua‘i on Monday that further closed county parks, require mask-wearing for everyone in public, and outline sheltering procedures for Kaua‘i’s homeless population — all effective at 5 a.m. today. Garden Island.

Kaua'i makes wearing masks mandatory for everyone over age five. Mayor Derek Kawakami announced that beginning on Tuesday, April 14 everyone over the age of five would be required to wear a mask outdoors. KITV4.

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Food distribution shifts gears. In the face of growing demand, the Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank is expanding its emergency food pickup to five days a week. Garden Island.

Unemployment frustrations. Applying for unemployment has been a headache for many Kaua‘i residents who are working to file claims after being furloughed or laid off from their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Garden Island.

Lanai

Coast Guard takes COVID-19 supplies to Lanai. A Coast Guard Auxiliary aircrew transported COVID-19 supplies from the Kahului Airport Fire Station to personnel at Lanai Airport for use by airport staff. Maui News.

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