Learning new rules

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A line of people forms Wednesday morning as shoppers wait to enter a big-box store in Puhi.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Retired Senior and Volunteer Program participant Feifei Gao and Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank warehouse supervisor Rizaldy Tolentino practice social distancing as presented in the mayor’s Emergency Rule No. 5 while packing for the Backpack program that will be delivered Friday as requested by the schools during the shutdown.

LIHU‘E — The number of positive COVID-19 cases on Kaua‘i rose to five Wednesday, as Hawai‘i health officials announced the one death linked to COVID-19 in Hawai‘i wasn’t actually related to the virus.

A worker at the state laboratory mistakenly recorded the negative test as a positive, the director of the laboratory told Associated Press Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, six new cases were reported statewide, bringing the number of Hawai‘i cases to 95.

Mayor Derek Kawakami re-emphasized the bottom line of this Emergency Rule No. 5, which localized Gov. David Ige’s statewide stay-at-home order, a rule that took effect Wednesday just after midnight.

In a nutshell, the rule is meant to keep the general public at home in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

”Everyone should be staying home. We know this virus is spreading in our community, and the more we interact with one another, the faster it spreads,” Kawakami said Wednesday. “Think of it this way: The less we move right now, the quicker we can get back to normal.”

Grocery stores and outlets like Costco and Walmart are allowed to be open under the emergency rule, with strict limits on the number of people allowed in the stores at any one given time, as well as implementation of the six-foot, social-distancing rule. Class sizes are limited to five in one room for schools under the rule. Banks and financial institutions are allowed to remain open, and mail will continue.

Other exceptions include health-care services, facilities and medical students; farming and the distribution of goods; subsistence and commercial fishing for fish sales, but not recreational or sport fishing; “essential” services, trades, activities and organizations; and outdoor exercise, like surfing or dog-walking — though only with members of the same household and following social-distancing guidelines.

“Essential” is defined in the rule in varying ways depending upon the subject, but generally refers to activities, trades and organizations that are needed for things like critical infrastructure, emergency response, recovery efforts and government function.

In total there are 33 exceptions to the local Emergency Rule No. 5.

“Yes, the rules get into very-specific guidelines and exceptions, but let’s break it down this way,” Kawakami said. “Stay home. As much as you can, stay home.”

Wednesday, a county spokesperson confirmed zero warnings or citations have been issued by Kaua‘i Police Department in relation to breaking the 9 p.m. to 5 am. curfew or the mayor’s stay-at-home order. Police Chief Todd Raybuck will be updating the public on enforcement of those rules today, the spokesperson said.

Ige has ordered all travelers arriving in the island to quarantine themselves for 14 days, starting today.

Wednesday, health officials said most who have tested positive for COVID-19 traveled out of state or had been exposed to someone who traveled. A total of 4,658 tests have been conducted in Hawai‘i to date, the state Department of Health said.

The mistaken report of a COVID-19-related death was related to a sample tested at the state laboratory on Monday, after a private laboratory test generated inconclusive results for the specimen. The state laboratory test returned a negative result, yet an analyst wrote it down as being positive, Edward Desmond, the laboratory’s director, told Associated Press.

A supervisor failed to catch the error, he said. The DOH reported the incorrect result Monday evening.

“We’re deeply apologetic about this. And we see the seriousness of it. And we don’t want it to reflect badly on the Department of Health or the state government,” Desmond told a hearing of the state Senate Special Committee on COVID-19.

On Kaua‘i, Kawakami said Wednesday the five individuals with COVID-19 on Kaua‘i are all in isolation — four adult visitors and one adult resident.


Jessica Else, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

  1. LMat March 26, 2020 8:47 am Reply

    Way too many exceptions to the stay-at-home mandate. Renders it absolutely pointless.

    1. xMan March 27, 2020 9:48 am Reply

      Oh don’t worry. Total & complete lockdown might be coming soon. Just gotta get everything in place.

  2. Charlie Chimknee March 26, 2020 10:46 pm Reply

    Vote for me, I’ll set you free…in a couple of weeks.

    Home of the brave (we’re not scared), Land of the Free…!

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