Hawaii Updates: Maui Mayor Says About 15 Hospital Workers Infected; Another Maui Death, Cases At 435

Apr 8, 2020

Updated: 4/8/2020, 11:32 a.m.

About 15 health care workers at Maui Memorial Medical Center have tested positive for the coronavirus, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said today.

“I was informed this morning that a cluster of COVID-19 cases has been identified and involve hospital staff at Maui Memorial Medical Center. These employees were immediately sent home to self-isolate and plans are moving forward to transport these workers to a quarantine site away from their families.”

The mayor said the county is working with the state to speed up the testing of other staff and get back results quickly.

"These are difficult times for all of us and we are taking immediate action to assist our healthcare workers. The County will be redirecting any available personal protective equipment to the hospital for their staff.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green told state senators today that eight of the infected hospital workers work in the oncology unit with medically compromised patients.

Green said he was very worried about the hospital infections.

He called for testing for close contacts of all those near to those tested positive.

Michael Rembis, chief executive officer of the Maui Health Care System, said the hospital acted as soon as the workers showed symptoms.

"We immediately furloughed them, and removed them from the workplace. They were not positive at the time, we believe, when they were working. But they were furloughed, they were tested, and they are positive," said Rembis.

Where Hawaii stands

The state's confirmed and presumed positive coronavirus cases today number 435, up by 25 from yesterday, according to the state's latest daily update. Another Maui death brings the count to six.

 

Oahu now has 328 cases, Maui 54, Big Island 26 and Kauai 18. There are 7 pending investigation and 2 cases were diagnosed out of state.  Forty-two cases have required hospitalization. 

The health department said the number of travel-related cases is dropping and there is greater concern about community spread. 

--HPR News Staff

DLNR cited 34 people for violating COVID-19 rules

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement division has cited 34 people on Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii Island for violating the governor's stay-at-home orders. In a DLNR release, 10 people were cited on Kauai, 22 on Oahu, and two on the Big Island.

DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Chief Jason Redulla noted that 10 people were cited at the long-closed Sacred Falls State Park on Oahu's North Shore. The park has been closed since 1999, after eight people died and dozens more injured when rocks fell from the canyon walls of the park.

"Not only were they violating stay-at-home orders and closed-area laws, they were putting their lives and the lives of emergency first-responders at risk," Redulla said. "The park is closed for good reason."

A dozen people were issued citations at Diamond Head State Monument. 

Caldwell: Visitors should not be allowed to stay at vacation rentals

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says short-term vacation rentals are not essential businesses and shouldn’t be taking in visitors.

The mayor said at a press conference yesterday that visitors continue to come to the islands despite a mandatory 14-day quarantine to stem the coronavirus.

 

He says if travelers are declaring when they arrive that they plan to lodge in a vacation rental, illegal or not, they should not be allowed to stay there.

 

“Part of our concern is visitors when they go to a vacation rental, it's hard to monitor where they are." he said. "If they're going to a major hotel in Waikiki, there's greater responsibility on behalf of the management of the hotel, that they'll make sure that visitor is self-quarantine in their room. But I do think more action needs to be taken on this because we see a trend and I hope it doesn't continue to go up because it puts greater burdens on all of us.”

 

Caldwell, and the Kauai and Maui mayors had asked the governor to halt nonessential travel to the state. But the governor rejected the request, saying he was told by federal officials that passengers can’t be kept from boarding airplanes.

 

The mayor said he was not looking to keep residents, flight crews or cargo from coming to the state but visitors should not be arriving. 

 

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported another daily increase in visitors, with 133 tourists and 182 residents arriving Monday.

--HPR's Sandee Oshiro

Keehi Lagoon tent site for homeless set up

The City and County of Honolulu has set up a tent site in Keehi Lagoon Beach Park that allows the homeless to be screened and monitored for two weeks during the COVID-19 crisis.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced yesterday that the police department will manage the new program -- it's called POST or Provisional Outdoor Screening and Triage.

About 40 to 50 homeless can live in tents located away from others and self-quarantine.

HPD Captain Mike Lambert says POST is different from the new Ka’a’ahi Street homeless isolation facility -- and is voluntary.

"The hope is that people that do participate will be self-quarantine for 15 days. If they do not show any symptoms within that time, then we’ll go ahead and move them to a lower risk place," he said. "Again, the hope is to identify any homeless individuals that are symptomatic, and perhaps provide them with appropriate medical treatment. Instead of having them roam around through our community, and potentially spread COVID."

Lambert says medical professionals will be at the Keehi Lagoon location to screen individuals.

He hopes another two sites will open soon, although he did not provide the locations. 

Some $6 million that had been earmarked for the city's HONU homeless services has been diverted for the POST program.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

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

 

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