COVID-19 Recap: What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Today in Hawai‘i
Governor Addresses Recent COVID-19-Related Deaths, Record Number of Infections
Gov. David Ige held a news briefing Thursday, to address the recent COVID-19-related deaths and record number of cases reported by DOH. There were a total of 355 newly diagnosed cases on Thursday, a record single day case count since the beginning of the pandemic.
Gov. Ige said, “This is a record number of daily cases and it follows several days of triple digit case numbers. We are saddened by the news that two more of our community members have died from this disease. We are seeing numerous clusters and wide community spread. Clusters are occurring in all areas of the community and common work-place activities like sharing lunch in work rooms and water cooler conversations. These are natural person-to-person contacts that occur every day. We are facing a critical situation that could get out of control very quickly.”
He also highlighted some of the clusters the State has been seeing and the efforts to enhance Hawai‘i’s contact tracing capacity (see Department of Health section below).
The governor added that it’s been a week since the State re-instated some of the restrictions and two days since re-starting the inter-island travel quarantine. Gov. Ige said:
“We hope that these measures will help control the virus. But if things do not get better, we will have no choice but to look at more restrictions. This could include going back to the stay-at-home orders. It also means that we may have to delay trans-Pacific travel. I know that going backwards will cause further harm to our economy, but we may have no choice. Before we can fix our economy, we need to fix our health. I know you’re frustrated. Everyone wants our lives to return to normal. You have sacrificed so much, and I am asking you to sacrifice even more. Remember that taking personal responsibility is still the best way to fight COVID-19. You all know what to do. Wash your hands, wear your mask, avoid large gatherings and stay home if you feel sick.”
*(Scroll down to bottom to view entire press conference)
Maui Health Care Worker and Two Patients Test Positive for Covid-19
Maui Health has confirmed that it has one health care worker and two patients at Maui Memorial Medical Center who have tested positive for COVID-19.
The health care worker is in quarantine at home and the patients have been isolated in the hospital’s COVID-19 warm unit. The health care worker, who came to work Wednesday with no symptoms and was screened for symptoms/temperature before entering the hospital, later became symptomatic during their shift.
“We do have our regular warm unit–Wailuku Tower–that is where the two patients that are positive have been isolated. It’s a very easy unit to isolate because each one of those rooms is private,” said Tracy Dallarda, Communications for Maui Health / Maui Memorial Medical Center during a phone interview on Thursday afternoon.
“The unit that was immediately isolated because the health care worker and the two patients were all in that unit–is Maui North. It is a medical surgical unit,” said Dallarda, noting that the unit was immediately isolated until there are assurances that there’s no further spread. “So we’re testing all of the employees, providers, patients… and in fact any employees (nursing or ancillary) that feel that they perhaps may have been exposed, we’re offering them the opportunity for testing as well.”
More on this story here.
Update on Hospital Capacity
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green addressed the spike in COVID-19 cases Hawai‘i has seen recently, saying, “While our new record daily number of 355 cases is startling, the current trend in new cases and hospitalizations is even more so, particularly for O‘ahu … Today we have more than 150 currently hospitalized for COVID-19, and 258 cumulative to date. Major and acute care hospitals on O‘ahu are already transferring patients and expanding ICU capacity to accommodate the growing number of COVID-19 positive patients. Many are reaching ICU capacity.”
- 137 out of 244 ICU beds in use (56%)
- Of the ICU beds in use, 29 are COVID-19 positive
- 73 out of 459 ventilators in use (16%)
- Of the ventilators in use, 22 are COVID-19 positive
Lt. Green also responded to Maui Now’s request for information relating to capacity at the Maui Memorial Medical Center where three COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Thursday.
Lt. Gov Green added, “The biggest takeaway today is that the surge in cases is now seriously threatening to overwhelm our hospitals and it’s coming fast. Individuals and our government need to mobilize now to drastically curb the spread of this virus and save lives.”
Department of Health: Two Additional Deaths Reported, COVID-19 Case Count Reaches Record Number
Two O‘ahu men, both over 60-years-old are the latest victims of COVID-19. DOH also reported Thursday that there are dozens of newly diagnosed cases of coronavirus, which is part of an existing cluster, at the O‘ahu Community Correctional Facility. The total count at the facility now stands at 105.
DOH is also continuing its epidemiological investigation into a cluster of cases at Honolulu Hale, which now totals 11 individuals, who may have been infected during gatherings at offices during breaks or social get-togethers, according to employees who have been interviewed.
DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson said, “With the virus actively being spread throughout the community on O‘ahu, congregate settings like prisons and institutions are at increased risk of introduction and should prepare as PSD and IHS have done. These agencies were ready and stepped into action quickly, working with the DOH on control and prevention measures to protect those at risk and the community. We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the latest people to succumb to this disease.”
DOH Deputy Director Danette Wong Tomiyasu also added, “Hawai‘i is at a critical juncture. We are receiving a record number of new positive cases. Clearly, we can do better. Hawai‘i’s people deserve better. There is an urgent need to do things differently. We need to turn the tide to protect the health and wellbeing of Hawaii residents and to reopen our state.”
Update on Contact Tracing Program, New Leader
DOH recently announced that the new Disease Investigation Branch Chief, Dr. Emily Roberson, would take over contact tracing at DOH. Tomiyasu said, “Dr. Roberson comes to us from Hawai‘i Pacific University, where she served as a professor, instructing public health students in epidemiology and developed the advanced degree programs in public health. She has hit the ground running. We’ve tasked her with making significant upgrades to the contact tracing program within two weeks.”
Dr. Sarah Park had previously been leading the contract tracing program. Tomiyasu added “As you can imagine, we are all stretched. Dr. Park is still a part of DOH and will focus on other aspects of the pandemic. There is more than enough to do. We are fortunate that Dr. Park was able to recruit Dr. Roberson to fill this important role.”
Tomiyasu also outlined changes to the contact tracing program that Dr. Roberson is helping oversee, which includes automating processes to reduce workload for contact tracers, standing up a call center with support from outside agencies to help with case management, and building in real-time monitoring and rapid-cycle evaluation of procedures and messaging. Other statistics/activities include:
- 76 individuals working on contact tracing and investigations
- 9 additional staff providing supervision and other support
- 15 additional contact tracers and case investigation staff working this week on O‘ahu to investigate cases
- 21 additional personnel from the Hawai‘i National Guard providing assistance on O‘ahu
- 20 new contact tracers being onboarded from the UH training program, another 20 will begin onboarding process next week
- Additional COVID-19 surge staff from other divisions within DOH assisting, including disease investigators, epidemiologists, nurses, etc.
- Volunteers also assisting with contact tracing, data analysis, and other disease response activities via the Medical Reserve Corps, university internship programs, medical residency programs, nursing clinical rotations, and community volunteering partnerships
- Additional space has been procured and equipped. Overtime is being compensated
Laboratory Testing Services Update
While contact tracing is a key component of tracking and preventing future COVID-19 cases in the State, DOH points out it’s just one tool the department uses. Another key component is testing.
The Hawai‘i State Laboratories Division and private labs currently have a combined capacity of 8,000 tests each day.
Tomiyasu said, “Hawai‘i has excellent laboratory services and good testing capacity; however, any nationwide shortages of testing supplies can be a looming threat to our local laboratory capacity. Delays in laboratory reporting can also affect our ability to investigate and trace cases.”
DOH says it continues to investigate new and alternative testing procedures that meet national standards and accuracy requirements. In addition, DOH conducts routine laboratory surveys of state and private capacity to monitor this situation and plan for contingencies.
Inter-Island Quarantine Information and Enforcement
Gov. Ige announced the partial reinstatement of the inter-island quarantine effective Aug. 11, 2020. The 14-day quarantine requirement applies to any person traveling to the counties of Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i, Maui and Kalawao (Moloka‘i) as stated in the 11th supplementary emergency proclamation.
Inter-island passengers arriving on O‘ahu are not required to quarantine. Inter-island passengers may submit a limited quarantine request with the applicable county.
Those who receive approval for the partial exemption should note they are still required to self-quarantine when they are not performing their approved essential functions. This means they may only break self-quarantine to perform their critical infrastructure and not for grocery shopping, outdoor exercise, or anything else outside their self-quarantine location. Arrangements can be made to have food and groceries delivered. A list of delivery services operating in Hawaiʻi can be found by clicking here.
People traveling inter-island can find additional information and the inter-island limited quarantine request by visiting the following county webpages:
Kauaʻi COVID-19 webpage: https://www.kauai.
Modified quarantine request form: https://survey123.
Maui County mandatory travel declaration form and request for limited quarantine form: https://www.mauicounty.
Hawaiʻi County COVID-19 webpage:
Critical infrastructure and medical travel request: https://survey123.
City & County of Honolulu
Interisland passengers arriving on Oahu are not subject to the mandatory quarantine.
To report violators, contact local law enforcement by utilizing the following resources:
- On O‘ahu, call 808-723-3900 or email [email protected]
- Maui County’s non-emergency line is (808) 244-6400 or email [email protected]
- Hawai‘i County’s non-emergency line is (808) 935-3311
- Kaua‘i County offers online reporting at https://www.kauai.gov/KPD-
Twenty Cases Under Investigation at IHS Shelter
At Thursday’s briefing it was also reported that the State and City and County of Honolulu is working with the Institute for Human Services Sumner’s Men’s Shelter in Iwilei to isolate and quarantine individuals at the shelter, as 20 cases in connection with the shelter were under investigation by DOH.
Additional Inmates, Adult Corrections Officers, Test Positive for COVID-19
Seventy additional OCCC inmates and seven adult corrections officers tested positive for COVID-19. The results were announced Thursday. PSD coordinated with DOH to conduct mass testing of all OCCC inmates in each of the 19 individual housing units there. Two housing units were tested on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Another housing unit was being tested on Thursday. The remaining units will be tested in the coming days.
A total of 105 positive cases have been identified through the testing, including 86 inmates and 19 staff members. Five housing units are now on lockdown due to COVID-19 related measures.
PSD Director Nolan Espinda said, “As the mass testing continues, we expect to see more positive cases. We appreciate how fast the DOH and National Guard are moving to coordinate the testing of identified staff and inmates. quarantine these individuals. We will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to mitigate the spread of this virus.”
In the meantime, court transports have been suspended through Friday. PSD will continue to take individuals the courts send and place them in an automatic intake quarantine. Video hearings will still be accommodated to the extent possible and legally permissible. If an inmate begins to show symptoms consistent with COVID-19, PSD health staff will perform a full evaluation, including testing for COVID-19 and infectious respiratory illnesses, such as the flu. Upon receipt of test results, positive cases are placed in medical isolation. Negative cases continue to quarantine until cleared by the medical director.
OCCC operations/maintenance staff and work lines have increased cleaning of all housing and intake modules. A deep cleaning vendor is scheduled to perform professional sanitation services as had previously been done in the Sheriff Division when there was a confirmed exposure.
Second O‘ahu Family Court Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19
An O‘ahu Family Court employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The announcement was made Thursday afternoon. It’s the second confirmed positive case of an O‘ahu Family Court employee, and the third employee statewide. A South Kohala District Court employee on Hawai‘i Island tested positive last week. The O‘ahu employee last worked at the courthouse on Tuesday, was asymptomatic, and was tested as a precaution.
A positive test result was confirmed Thursday morning. Out of an abundance of caution, the Judiciary is closing the fourth floor at the Kapolei Courthouse for deep cleaning and disinfecting. Employees with close prolonged contact with the affected individual have been identified and directed to leave the facility. They have been advised to seek guidance from their medical providers and will return to work when medically appropriate to do so. Partner agencies have also been informed of the situation. The Judiciary continues to confer with DOH regarding any additional actions needed. The Kapolei Judiciary Complex will remain open; however, most Kapolei Family Court proceedings will be rescheduled. For more details:
State Issues $2.7 Billion in Unemployment Benefits Since March
DLIR announced updated unemployment insurance claims information Thursday, including paying $2,733,150,415 since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic on March 1, 2020. Acting DLIR Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio said, “We are still experiencing a significant increase of workers still attached to an employer being fully released from employment. These individuals will need to report the separation when filing a weekly claim certification. After filing a weekly claim certification, these individuals then reactivate their claim and select ‘Report Separation from an Employer’ in the state’s online portal.
Perreira-Eustaquio also added, “The department has worked to hone and refine Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) data to more strategically target those with pending claims as well as to evolve processing operations. We have released nearly 8,700 PUA claims for payment in the last two weeks by using predictive analytics to auto clear identity verification issues.”
Hawai‘i Tourism Authority: 2,023 Passengers Arrive on Wednesday
Thursday marked 20 weeks since the State’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine started for all passengers arriving in Hawai‘i from out-of-state. Yesterday, a total of 2,023 people arrived in Hawai‘i including 526 visitors and 583 returning residents. There was a total of 29 arriving flights. This table shows the number of people who arrived by air from out of state yesterday but does not show interisland travel.
AIRPORT ARRIVALS FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2020