The Latest: 0 Deaths, 61 New COVID-19 Cases; Kauai Reports First On-Island COVID Death

Nov 24, 2020

Updated: 11/24/2020, 12:40 p.m.

The state Department of Health reported no deaths and 61 new COVID-19 cases today. Because of the department's two-day delay in posting new numbers, the counts represent cases from Sunday.

Some counties are reporting more timely numbers that may differ from the state's counts.

Oahu had 45 new cases, Hawaii County 7, Kauai 1, Maui 4, and Lanai and Molokai none. There were 4 new cases diagnosed out of state.

The latest state counts bring the Oahu total to 14,918, Hawaii County, 1,557, Kauai 101, Maui 499, Lanai 106 and Molokai 17. The number of out-of-state cases total 195.

Since the pandemic began, the state has seen 17,393 cases. Deaths stand at 233.

Kauai reports first on-island COVID death

Kauai reported its first on-island fatality from COVID-19 yesterday. The elderly male was a Kauai resident with no history of travel. Earlier in July, another Kauai resident died of the virus while on the U.S. mainland.

"It is heartbreaking to report this news especially as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches this week," said Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami. 

The death occurred as the island sees a sharp rise in cases. Most of infections are related to travel but a small number of the new cases are not directly related to travel. 

The county says this means there is community transmission on the island, which is the first time local spread has occurred since July, according to its news release.

Health officials yesterday reported four new cases of COVID-19 on the island, all travel-related. One is an adult resident and three others are adult visitors. One of the four cases is awaiting confirmation, which is expected today.

One of the four cases is a traveler who had taken a pre-travel test but did not receive the positive results until after arriving on Kauai. Close contacts are being identified. They will be directed to quarantine and were offered testing.

Kawakami sought and received a change in the state's Safe Travels program that, starting today, requires passengers to have their negative test results in hand before arriving in the islands. 

Kauai now has a cumulative case count of 117 -- 103 of which were confirmed locally, one that is a probable positive and 13 diagnosed on the mainland as positive but with results not reported until the passengers were on island.

Trans-Pacific travelers must show negative test before arriving starting today

Gov. David Ige has signed a 16th emergency proclamation that requires travelers from the U.S. mainland to show they have a negative result from a test conducted by a "trusted partner" lab prior to their depature for the islands. The requirement takes effect today.

The change addresses a concern of Neighbor Island mayors that travelers were arriving on their islands before they received their results and then subsequently found they were positive for COVID-19. The mayors had lobbied Ige for the change.

But Ige gave another reason for the change in a news release yesterday. He said the state is implementing the "added layer of safety in response to the dramatically increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the continental United States and around the world."

The negative test results must be uploaded to the Safe Travels system prior to departure. Travelers can also bring a printed copy of their test result when boarding their flight.

Travelers won't be allowed to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine if they don't have their negative test result prior to arriving. Post-arrival testing results won't be accepted, the state said.

The new requirement applies only to domestic trans-Pacific passengers and does not apply to interisland travelers.

Positive cases among Waiawa inmates rise

Eight more positive cases at the Waiawa Correctional Facility were reported by the state Department of Public Safety yesterday. The latest numbers bring the total of positive cases at the facility to 103.

All Waiawa inmates who are positive are in medical isolation at the facility. Other inmates have been placed in quarantine.

Seven of 47 WCF staff members also tested positive. The state Department of Health is conducting contact tracing and staff members are in full personal protective equiment, according to DPS. All inmate movements have been halted to prevent transmission of the virus.

This is the second COVID-19 outbreak at a state prison. Starting in the summer and through yesterday, the Oahu Correctional Center has seen over 425 positive cases. The outbreak and deficiencies in containing the virus contributed to the departure of then-DPS Director Nolan Espinda.

Testing continues at OCCC. Of 129 inmates tested over the weekend, 7 were positive and 121 were negative and 1 was inconclusive.

At Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona, where 1,079 inmates are housed and an outbreak continues, testing is ongoing. As of yesterday, 123 were positive and active, 524 were positive and recovered and 427 were negative.

One Hawaii inmate at Saguaro died of COVID last week, the first case of an inmate dying of the virus that was confirmed by medical examiner reports. 

City earmarks another $24M for small business assistance

Another $24 million is being earmarked for Honolulu’s small business relief and recovery fund but this time more businesses will be allowed to apply and qualify for the city aid.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell says businesses that couldn’t reopen under the city’s tiered strategy, or reopened in a very limited capacity, can now apply for the program.

"Those fall in four categories. Number one is bars and nightclubs. Second, gyms and fitness facilities – as you know they’re open, but in a limited capacity. And how can we help them? Number three is arcades. And then the last one is commercial and recreational boating. Up to $20,000 will be available to these types of businesses," the mayor said.

Ed Hawkins of the city’s office of economic development also says businesses that previously applied for the program can re-apply for relief.

Businesses that qualify can receive up to $20,000 from the program.

So far, the city has allocated $175 million in federal CARES Act funds to aid local businesses. More information on the program including how to apply can be found at oneoahu.org/small-business.

Pop-up gallery, shop opens above Satellite City Hall in December

There are new signs of life in the arts community in downtown Honolulu. The Hawai'i' Craftsmen exhibition welcomed an average of 40 visitors a day over three weeks at the Downtown Art Center, in Chinatown Gateway Plaza. Now, the space above the Satellite City Hall will become a pop-up gallery and shop for the month of December.

The Downtown Art Center's nearly 3,000 square feet of open exhibition space will be open to artists. according to Jackie Mild Lau, an artist, and Hawai'i Craftsmen board member. About 12 square feet of exhibition space will go for $175 for the month.

"Of course, no guarantees of sales, and so a lot of artists were afraid there wouldn't be enough visitors. What we found with the Craftsmen Show was that people need something safe to do that they can go to for free," Lau said.

"We have had some good traffic and we have had pretty good sales, too, better than last year, actually."  

Lau maintains that recent changes to venues and workspaces have galvanized the arts community.

The Hawai'i Arts Alliance and others are proposing a Creative Resurgence Caucus at the Legislature to draft and shepherd legislation that supports art and culture as a part of Hawai'i's economic reboot.

The state Senate Committee on Labor, Culture, and the Arts expects to hold an exploratory meeting on December 3rd.

--HPR's Noe Tanigawa