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More COVID-19 closures

LIHU‘E — Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami announced three new COVID-19-related rules Wednesday, alongside the state’s announcement that Hawaii is now starting contact testing for the virus.

That means opening up COVID-19 testing to those who have had any close contact with someone with the virus — showing symptoms or not. Close contacts and tests will be determined and ordered by the Hawai‘i Department of Health and/or licensed health care providers and conducted by the Hawai‘i State Lab and/or private labs.

Members of the general public who are asymptomatic and not deemed close contacts will not be tested at this time.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard chastised the DOH and state officials in a social media post on on Wednesday for not taking these steps sooner, and suggested Hawai‘i’s state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park and state Health Director Bruce Anderson both be fired for “failure to take necessary actions to protect” Hawaii residents from the coronavirus.

“Dr. Park and Bruce Anderson have stubbornly resisted or delayed every action needed to contain and prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Gabbard said Wednesday. “Anderson and Park are either grossly out of touch or extremely negligent.”

In support of her call to fire Anderson and Park, Gabbard pointed to what she says was delayed implementation of traveler quarantines, delayed suspension of cruise ships and stay at home orders and delayed implementation of contact testing.

On Kaua‘i, golf courses and vacation rentals are preparing to close on Saturday, April 10. Kawakami also announced Wednesday that all employees of food service establishments that sell prepared foods, groceries and medicine must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth, also starting Saturday.

“Vacation Rentals are not supervised in the same way as hotels, where it is easier to distribute information about the enforcement of the quarantine,” Kawkami said in a Wednesday public address. “Most recent data on incoming flights are showing a slight rise in visitor numbers. Further, some vacation rentals are still actively advertising, including promoting themselves as COVID-19 retreats for people from the mainland. This is wrong. It is dangerous for our community. And it cannot continue.”

Any visitor currently staying in a vacation rental will be allowed to complete their stay but they are not allowed to extend their current reservation, Kawakami said. Once these visitors vacate their Vacation Rental unit, vacation rentals must cease to operate.

Kawakami expressed appreciation for the public’s patience and feedback on the stay-at-home order on Wednesday, saying the goal is to balance safety and the ability to conduct “essential business”.

“We are constantly re-evaluating the rules to ensure your health and safety, first and foremost,” Kawakami said. “But secondary to your health and safety, we also want to allow people to be able to conduct their most essential business as best we can, without compromising health and safety.”

Wednesday, Kauai’s number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases remained at 19, including 11 individuals that have either recovered or returned to the mainland. The remaining eight active cases are residents, five are in home isolation, two are in isolation at a facility, and one remains in isolation in the hospital.

All but one case has been confirmed to be travel-related, and the source of infection for that case continues to be investigated by the Department of Health.

Statewide, the COVID-19 death toll reached six on Wednesday, with one new death being investigated on Maui. In total, as of Wednesday DOH reported 435 cases of COVID-19 in Hawaii, with 85 of those cases already released from isolation. The number of people tested for the virus reached 15,566 on Wednesday.

DOH also reports of the statewide total 2,773 hospital beds available, 47% of them are in use, or 1,304. Of the total 338 ICU beds available, 97 are in use; of the 535 ventilators in Hawaii, 65 are in use.

Visitors continue to come to Hawaii, according to Hawaii Tourism Authority, which reported Wednesday a total of 654 arrivals statewide at airports. Of that number 160 were visitors, according to HTA. At Lihu‘e Airport, a total of 18 people arrived on Wednesday; six of them were crewmembers, three were residents and nine were visitors. Mandatory 14-day, self-quarantine is required for all passengers arriving from out of state and also covers interisland travelers.

14 Comments
  1. Uncleaina April 9, 2020 8:48 am Reply

    The mayor is doing great. Dr Anderson and Dr Park and doing pretty well. Tulsi didn’t you have access to the security briefings early on? How come you blaming local officials when this being discussed in congress during January? Finger pointing right now by someone not planning to even run for re-election seems petty. Plus numbers don’t lie and the state has high per capita testing rates and low mortality rates. It’s going pretty well all things considered.


  2. LJ April 9, 2020 9:15 am Reply

    Good that Mr. Kawakami deemed it necessary to finally shut down vacation rentals (next maybe the airport?). But why golf courses? Golf is the most isolating competitive sport in the world! If courses made a rule where it was “singles only” you’d literally be 200+yards away from the nearest person at all times, which is much more social distance than the typical 6 ft or less I see at costco…


    1. MK April 10, 2020 3:27 am Reply

      Golfers tend to touch the same things the golfer ahead of them touched. Ball washers, flags, the cup, parts of the carts, etc. It would be infeasible to sanitize all that between each player. Since the virus can exist on surfaces for a while, that’s a risk.


  3. Charlie Chimknee April 9, 2020 10:33 am Reply

    Aloha Mayor Kawakami, Please Stop TARGETING the MAJORITY who if even get sick will have NO symptoms, or mild symptoms, or need only bed rest. What, nobody ever had the flu before…?

    But YES, Target those in the MINORITY at High Risk. The ELDERLY with additional chronic diseases and taking 5-10-15 multiple dose prescription drugs a day. They need NUTRICIOUS Food, domestic services, etc.

    Yes the High Risk Elderly MINORITY are the ones at risk of death…take care of them, quit trying to police the Majority.

    Open all businesses and let the visitors return or we may sink economically to point of no return.

    Children out of School, tenant people evicted, people losing their homes, their jobs, how many will be homeless…this is insane.

    Mayor Derek, our shopping centers and town main streets are shuttered and empty; don’t let it go too far, it will irrepairably break, on your watch.

    This CoVid19 Flu Virus is same routine as the other flu’s.

    The regular Seasonal Flu kills up to 35,000 people a year in America, and 650,000 worldwide.

    Medical Errors, another epidemic kills 260,000 people per year for at least 30 years and no end in sight.That’s 7.8 Million dead patients over 3 decades.

    No one is living in Fear or is Hysterical, over these other epidemics, much less using police action bordering on Gestapo Nazi-ism

    The MAJORITY do not need this overkill protection, The MINIORITY need our working taxes to be protected better than what is being offered now, which is just wait and see and if you get sick come to the hospital and risk death,

    End the Shut Down, End the Lock down, Open the Visitor Industry, We Can Handle This.

    Protect the Kupuna with quality foods, domestic services and anything else needed to protect them.


    1. Marcia April 9, 2020 4:08 pm Reply

      Ditto to what Charlie Chimknee said!!! Seriously! 🙏


    2. Know you transmission April 10, 2020 3:28 am Reply

      Charlie- the virus is carried by people who have no symptoms and get passed to those at high risk. To protect the Kupuna, we all have to chill a while.


    3. Marcia April 10, 2020 7:58 am Reply

      Ditto to what Charlie Chimknee said!!!!!!


  4. Travis April 9, 2020 4:36 pm Reply

    Well I am certainly less smart than I was prior to reading that last post.


  5. byebye April 9, 2020 9:10 pm Reply

    once this ends keep tvrs shut down permanently , just like molokai is doing.


    1. Da Shadow April 10, 2020 4:34 pm Reply

      …and all our aunties and uncles out of work. good idea.


  6. LMat April 10, 2020 7:37 am Reply

    Charlie charlie charlie….
    You live in a truly delusional world.
    And WHY does TGI keep publishing your raving and idiotic comments…?


  7. WaimeaResident April 10, 2020 8:08 am Reply

    Congratulations on destroying society, mayor. Tulsi, you want credit for that too?


  8. leila April 10, 2020 4:22 pm Reply

    Tulsi Gabbard- you sounding like Trump!…. DOH, State and county officials are doing the best they can with the staff they have and as the science of this virus becomes available. Thank you DOH!


  9. Da Shadow April 10, 2020 4:37 pm Reply

    “Vacation Rentals are not supervised in the same way as hotels, where it is easier to distribute information about the enforcement of the quarantine,” -Mayor Kawkami

    how is Hanalei Inn, for example, ‘distributing information’ better than TVR’s? they have no staff on-site. it is the same booking and check-in process as TVR’s.
    not sure why TVR’s are facing this discrimination…


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