Hawaii Updates: 3 New Cases; Green Seeks Interisland Travel Easing Soon; Economist Warns Of 2nd Wave

May 28, 2020

Updated: 5/28/2020, 12:25 p.m.

Where we stand

Hawaii recorded three new coronavirus cases today, continuing the trend in recent days of zero or few additional cases and spurring moves to reopen the economy.

The state health department now reports the number of recorded cases at 647; deaths stand at 17. The case count for Oahu is at 417, Maui County at 118, Hawaii Island at 82 and Kauai at 20. There are 10 cases diagnosed out of state. Some 604 people have been released from isolation.

Green calls for easing of interisland travel restrictions by early June

Lt. Gov. Josh Green is hoping interisland travel without quarantines can resume sooner rather than later. Green told a Honolulu City Council committee yesterday that it will be important to have procedures and sufficient testing capacity in place before reopening the state’s tourism industry.

But in the meantime, Green believes interisland travel could reopen.

He says this is due to the low number of new COVID-19 cases seen in recent weeks. Yesterday, there was one new case in the state; prior to that, there were no new cases for three days in a row.

Green says Gov. David Ige is being cautious about when interisland travel can resume and the administration is discussing it with county mayors. But he argues keeping interisland travel closed has consequences.

"You know, I get calls all day long. One was a heartbreaking story where there was a car accident here, and the family members had to travel here at end of life for their nephew. So we got them the exemption, but it was harrowing – they might not have made it," he said.

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates: Oahu Barbers, Hair Salons Can Reopen Friday; Schatz Calls For Moment of Silence; 1 New Case

"There are innumerable examples that the interisland travel restrictions are actually affecting people’s lives negatively. And that’s before you look at the psychological impact of it, which we do know is very real. So we’re making a mistake not to open up interisland travel now."

Green later told HPR that he’s advocating for interisland travel to reopen at the beginning of June.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

Economist warns that second wave could be more deadly

Hawaii Economist Paul Brubaker has been looking at how a flu pandemic 100 years ago can serve up lessons for the COVID-19 emergency today.

Brubaker told members of the City Council yesterday that lifting restrictions too early can have an impact – and sooner than we may think.

“The concern about a second wave is that we do have a history from the 1918-19 pandemic to rely upon just how problematic are the second waves and I'm not talking about November -- I'm talking about next month. June is when you'll see it manifest, June and July," he said.

"Because what happens is the initial social distancing, and other non-pharmaceutical intervention, we know work -- they worked a century ago, they work this time. But then people get frustrated with them, they get antsy. They start protesting, businesses complain about lack of business. And, inevitably, 100 years ago, those cities, which reopened prematurely or relaxed their social distancing measures, found themselves facing secondary waves, which are with greater mortality than the first in some cases.”

He said states like Hawaii that minimized the spread of COVID-19 can still become victims of their own success.

--HPR's Sandee Oshiro

State cites operators of four residential care homes

The state Department of Health has cited operators of four residential care homes and one home care agency for for what officials say are unlicensed businesses.

The department's Office of Health Care Assurance issued notices of violation for operations at 45-1117 Cobb Adams Road in Kaneohe and 565 Halekauwila St.

April M. Nabe, RN, of Cobb-Adams LLC; Dwayne N. Nasu of 565 Halekauwila St., LCC; Ken Arima; and Linda Fong Arima (aka Linda Sau Khing Fong) were ordered to immediately stop operations and pay administrative penalties totaling $379,100.

The state conducted an unannounced visit and started an investigation into the operations based on complaints, the OHCA said in a news release.

The operators have 20 days to request a hearing and contest the notice and order.

OHCA Chief Keith Ridley said if anyone suspects unusual or illegal residential care home activity, or want to know if a facility is licensed, they can call his office. The OCHA state Licensing Section can be reached at 808-692-7400.

Airport arrivals dip on Tuesday

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported 869 arrivals on Tuesday, down from recent days when the numbers exceeded 1,000.

Of the total arrivals, 235 were visitors, 322 returning residents, 112 crew members, 58 travelers in transit, 52 military, 44 exempt from quarantine by the state, and 46 who say they are relocating to the islands.

--HPR News Staff

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

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.