The Latest: Ige Approves Kauai Request To Reimpose Quarantine; 3 Deaths, 92 New COVID-19 Cases

Nov 27, 2020

Updated: 11/27/2020, 6:15 p.m.

Gov. David Ige has granted Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami's request to temporarily reinstate the 14-day mandatory quarantine for travelers arriving on the island effective Dec. 2, regardless of whether they received a negative COVID-19 test or not.

All other counties remain under the pre-travel testing program.

"The unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases on the mainland and the rise in community spread on Kaua‘i are of significant concern for the Garden Isle," the governor said in a statement this afternoon. "We must protect Kaua‘i residents and visitors and ensure that Kaua‘i's hospitals do not become overwhelmed."

Kaua‘i has the fewest number of ICU beds among counties in the state and private providers are working to increase its capacity.

"This moratorium aims to stabilize the situation on Kauai‘i, the governor said.

Kawakami thanked Ige and said with the national surge in COVID-19 cases, his island is unable to adequately protect itself under Safe Travels, the state's pre-travel testing program.

"Our travel related cases are now leading to community spread across our island," the mayor stated. "This temporary pause in travel will allow us to remain in Tier 4 [of the islands' reopening plan] as long as possible, keeping youth sports playing and businesses open as we conduct surge testing and contact tracing."

He said he plans to "gladly repeal the moratorium once we have the virus under control again."

The change, called Rule 23, is posted on the Kaua‘i county website.

The island's modified quarantine program will remain in place for essential workers who are exempted from testing and quarantine, including those who are essential medical workers.

Where we stand

The state Department of Health reported 3 deaths and 92 new COVID-19 cases today. Because of the department's two-day delay in posting new numbers, the counts represent cases from Wednesday.

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

According to the state counts, Oahu had 71 new cases, Maui 4, Hawaii County 5, Kauai 5, and Lanai and Molokai none. There were 7 new cases diagnosed out of state.

The latest state counts bring the Oahu total to 15,170, Hawaii County, 1,574, Maui 521, Kauai 110, Lanai 106 and Molokai 17. The number of out-of-state cases total 210. Two Oahu cases were removed from the counts based on updated information.

Since the pandemic began, the state has seen 17,708 cases. The death toll rose to 240.

UH study: 21% of seafood mislabeled 

A new study from the University of Hawaii at Manoa found 21 percent of the seafood sold in Honolulu is mislabeled. But that number is far lower than for other metropolitan areas.

Seafood mislabeling is widely documented around the world; the products are mostly cheaper species sold for pricier fish either by mistake or for profit.

Researchers found the most commonly mislabeled fish in Honolulu was swai, which is also sold as red snapper, sea bass, and mahi mahi.

UH Professor Peter Marko, who oversaw the study, said researchers found two critically endangered species were being sold.

"One of them is the European freshwater eel. And it’s a species that is highly prized in the sushi market, and sold under the Japanese name of unagi. But most of the desirable species of unagi have been intensively overfished. And the European freshwater eel has been so intensively overfished that the European Union has banned all imports and exports of that species.

"But, nevertheless, some managed to make their way through the global seafood supply chain throughout the world, and end up for sale in sushi bars and in groceries."

Marko says the other endangered species is the southern bluefin tuna, which was sold as ahi.

He says consumers should ask what they are buying and where it came from.

For more on the study, visit the UH website.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

Satellite technology helping researchers monitor coral bleaching

Climate change and warmer waters are threatening coral reefs worldwide.

But researchers are now getting a better picture of where coral bleaching is occurring and how severe it is.

In Hawaii, satellites are helping scientists to locate and map the reefs that are stressed, and to measure the extent of the damage.

Ecologist Greg Asner is based on the Big Island with Arizona State University's Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science. 

"What's really the breakthrough is that we can see that a hot water event is coming using the NOAA satellites. But we don't know its impact, ultimately, because the reefs are just very large, highly inaccessible in some places, and complex ecologically," he said. "So we have these other satellites that we're working with, instead of saying there's going to be a heatwave, we're able to use the satellites to say how bad was it for the coral. It's a diagnosis of the impact of a heatwave.

"And 2019, we got we were lucky in Hawaii. We had some loss, but nothing like 2015. And independent of how much loss you have year to year, you really need public engagement to help reduce the stress on these reefs and, and the satellites help us to know where that's most important."

Scientists are working on saving damaged reefs with research on projects like shading the coral with mats.

But the public can help preserve the reefs in simple ways: don't walk on or touch the coral, wear coral-friendly sunscreen, and report it if you see coral bleaching in your area.

More information on coral bleaching can be found on the website hawaiicoral.org.