Hawaii Updates: Zero New Cases; No Ceremonies But Punchbowl Visits Allowed; More Ocean Rescues

May 25, 2020

Updated: 5/25/2020, 12:17 p.m.

Where we stand

Hawaii recorded no new coronavirus case 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 643; deaths stand at 17. The case count for Oahu is at 414, Maui County at 118, Hawaii Island at 81 and Kauai at 20. There are 10 cases diagnosed out of state. Some 592 people have been released from isolation.

Memorial Day ceremonies canceled as precaution against COVID-19

There will be no memorial services today at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Punchbowl is open for gravesite visits but the ceremonies that have marked the Memorial Day observance prior to COVID-19 won't be held.

Instead, officials will hold a small event not open to the public. The observance will be photographed and pictures posted on the Punchbowl Facebook page.

“The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is committed to observing Memorial Day 2020 in a manner that honors those who sacrificed for our Nation while protecting the health and safety of visitors and our team members,” said Jim Horton, cemetery director, in a news release.

The cemetery will be open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visitors should wear face masks and abide by social distancing measures.

The public can also leave an online tribute to veterans on the National Cemetery Administration's Veterans Legacy Memorial website. A memorial page is posted for each veteran and service member interred in a Veterans Administration national cemetery. 

Gov. David Ige, meanwhile, canceled his annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe, citing the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.

More ocean rescues and preventive actions 

Another 46 people were rescued by city ocean safety staff yesterday as the long holiday weekend and lifting of beach access restrictions continue to draw crowds to the sand and sea.

The city's Ocean Safety Division said 7,000 protective actions, such as warnings, were also issued.

Arrivals at airports exceed 1,000 again

Saturday saw the continuation of a growing trend among arrivals, with 1,117 coming to the islands -- 384 of them visitors, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The numbers are increasing despite a mandatory 14-day quarantine imposed on all visitors and returning residents.

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates: No New Cases; City Rescues 57; Macy's Reopens; Big Island To Open Churches, Salons

Others arriving in the include 287 returning residents, 122 transiting travelers, 115 who say they are relocating here, 113 crew members, 78 military, and 18 exempted from quarantine by the state.

Another sign of reopening: in-person religious services allowed

In-person religious and spiritual services on Oahu were allowed to open starting Saturday under restrictions and guidelines outlined by the city, state and U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Worshippers must keep 6 feet distance from each other, unless they are from the same household or living unit. The city encouraged organizers to limit the number of people at a service to ensure social distancing.

Organizers were also encouraged to develop COVID-19 mitigation plans dealing with such topics as face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting practices, safeguards for high-risk populations, and limiting the sharing of worship materials.

Starting on May 15, the city allowed churches and other religious groups to hold drive-in services that required worshippers to remain in their vehicles.

Kaneohe sandbar enforcement yields one citation

Six state conservation and resource enforcement officers paroled Ahu O Laka Saturday, citing one man for operating a thrillcraft in an off-limits area and allowing a child to operate the craft.

Thirty-five boats were anchored on the Kaneohe sandbar at its peak, the state said in a news release.

In previous years, the sandbar has been the site of numerous violations, including alcohol consumption and fights. One party was warned about the no-alcohol rule, otherwise enforcement agents saw no other violations.

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.