Hawaii Updates: Cases Up 1; City Rescues 266 As Beaches Open; Nurses Honored; UH Offers Free Classes

May 17, 2020

Updated: 5/17/2020, 11:56 a.m.

Where we stand

Hawaii recorded one new coronavirus cases today, continuing a run of days with zero or few cases, spurring the moves to reopen the economy.

The state health department reported the number of recorded cases is at 640 and deaths stand at 17. The case count for Oahu is at 415, Maui County at 117, Hawaii Island at 77 and Kauai County at 21. There are 10 cases diagnosed out of state.

City facing enforcement, safety challenge as beaches reopen

As Oahu beaches open further, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says enforcement of social distancing requirements will begin with warnings and may move to citations and arrests if there's no compliance. But Caldwell acknowledged that city officials can't be in all places and enforcement will grow more difficult as the island continues to reopen.

"So it's going to be hard to enforce everywhere. And it's incumbent as a result for each of us to have our own responsibility to ourselves, to our family, to the larger community," the mayor said during a media briefing yesterday.

Beaches opened to more than just exercise yesterday, causing a flood of people to hit the ocean. Under the latest easing of restrictions, gatherings of fewer than 10 people are allowed provided they come from the same household. Those that do not, must follow social distancing measures, such as standing at least six feet apart.

The city's Emergency Services Department reported 266 ocean safety rescues yesterday, with beach crowds reaching levels seen on major holidays, according to a department news release. Surf heights were sizable across the state, with Oahu's North Shore seeing waves of 8 to 10 feet.

In continuing moves to reopen the state, the mayor said the city will be issuing guidelines allowing restaurants to resume dine-in service beginning June 5. He said the timing gives the eateries three weeks of runway to get ready for sitdown services with health and safety rules in place.

Because the restaurants need time to get ready, some may not open on June 5, he said. Similar to the slow reopening of retailers that began last week, some may hold back.

"It's kind of an organic process, I think, we're gonna all be living through in the coming months," he said.

City honors nurses on coronavirus front lines

Honolulu proclaimed yesterday as Hawaii Nurses Association Day, acknowledging nurses working with patients in the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the public should not waste the nurses' sacrifice by failing to follow safety guidelines as the state reopens.

The mayor praised several nurses who attended the proclamation ceremony, including Daniel Ross, president of the Hawaii Nurses Association, and Joan Craft, treasurer of the group. The two were among a small counterprotest when about 100 demonstrators pushed for a lifting of all stay-at-home restrictions earlier this month at the state Capitol.

According to media reports, the nurses held signs that said, "We go to work for you. Stay home for us."

In accepting the mayor's proclamation, Craft emotionally thanked other essential workers, including respiratory therapists, dieticians, housekeepers and people in grocery stores. 

"I know when I go to the grocery store, and I look them in the eye -- especially when this first started -- they were afraid," she said.

She said it's good to be recognized, but that the honor should extend to others on the front lines.

UH community offers free online summer classes to Class of 202 grads

The University of Hawaii community colleges are offering free summer classes to public high school graduates of the Class of 2020. Classes begin May 26.

The UH said in a news release that the online classes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. In the classes, students can develop career plans and identify next steps, such as enrolling in college or seeking jobs or both.  

More information is available on the UH's Next Step: Career Exploration website.

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates

: Cases Up 2; Beaches Open With Restrictions, Restaurants Can Open Dine-In June 5

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

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