The Latest: 0 Deaths, 97 New Cases Statewide; Lanai Under Fewer Restrictions As Isle Cases Level Off

Nov 12, 2020

Updated: 11/12/2020, 5:16 p.m.

The new COVID-19 cases totaled 97 statewide today, less than the triple digit counts seen frequently in recent days but still a threat to further easing of restrictions, particularly on Oahu. There were no additional deaths, with the state toll standing at 222.

With today's counts, the state Department of Health reported Hawaii cases reached 16,302 since the pandemic began.

Oahu had 72 new cases, Hawaii County 15, Maui 6, Kauai 1, and Lanai and Molokai 0. Three more cases were diagnosed out of state.

Oahu has now had 14,080 cases, Hawaii County 1,451, Maui 442, Lanai 106, Kauai 75, and Molokai 17. Out of state cases totaled 131. 

The state today also issued a new weekly report on COVID-19 clusters. 

A recent investigation of an Oahu intermediate school required contact tracing of more than 100 people, the state Department of Health said. The number was large because the original case, a middle school student, moved to different classrooms in nine different subjects. Some classrooms didn't have sufficient space for six-foot distances between student desks, although masking policies were in place. The school mandated a two-week quarantine and advised that all students and teachers who shared a classroom with the student get tested. One additional case was identified, a pupil who was sitting in front of the original student for a full class period. The department also investigated multiple clusters involving college students attending parties in dorms. One was traced to a Halloween party attended by students from multiple universities. Five cases have been identified so far and the investigation continues. Clusters also occurred when co-workers ate meals together, including in schools. At one elementary school, four cases -- custodians and cafeteria workers -- regularly ate lunch together, the department said. No students or other staffers were exposed. 

Lanai under safer-at-home mandate as cases level off

Lanai's stay-at-home order is lifted as of today but officials still want residents to remain in their residence whenever possible.

Maui County imposed the lockdown in late October after a COVID-19 outbreak on the island.

With cases holding steady, the governor approved a lifting of the stay-at-home order.

Lanai residents and visitors are now under a safer-at-home mandate.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino explained the difference between the two orders during a virtual townhall meeting last night.

"Stay at home order means exactly that, you know, pretty much everything is shut down. The next tier up is safer at home," he said. "In other words, we're still encouraging people to follow as much as possible not being out for whatever reasons other than what you need to go out. 

"And that includes exercise and wearing of masks and all these other aspects now, but the quarantine for people coming back, people wanting to come in, testing three days out, all that still is mandated."

Travelers to Lanai still need to undergo quarantine unless exempted with a negative test prior to their arrival or if they are traveling for essential work.

The safer-at-home order remains in effect until Nov. 30. But the mayor said it could be lifted earlier if cases don't rise significantly.

Lanai had 106 coronavirus cases as of yesterday and that count has remained level for several days.

--HPR's Sandee Oshiro

Big Island's mayor-elect prepares for challenges

Hawaii County’s incoming mayor says he’s facing several challenges as he prepares to take office next month.

Mayor-Elect Mitch Roth puts COVID-19 and the economy at the top of the list, and he says they’re closely linked.

The former Big Island prosecuting attorney says there are some immediate issues to deal with, as well as some longer-term hurdles that involve not only the county, but the entire state, such as a looming budget shortfall.

“As with everything else, the economy is going to be really difficult, making sure that we get people back to work safely, dealing with COVID is going to be another big challenge, and then the budget," Roth said.

"Where are we going to be for next year? Not so much the first six months, but making the budget for next year. Knowing that the state has about a $2 billion shortfall, what’s going to happen as far as some of the state funds that come to the counties, making sure that tourism is going but also diversifying our economy and looking at things like entrepreneurial accelerators and incubators to help people scale their products to market.”

Roth won the election over community organizer and businessman Ikaika Marzo by a margin of roughly 57 percent to 40 percent of the vote.

Roth will take over from Mayor Harry Kim on December 7th, three weeks from this coming Monday.

The full conversation with Roth will air today on The Conversation, HPR-1 at 11 a.m., and stream on hawaiipublicradio.org and the HPR mobile app.

--HPR's Harrison Patino