LIHU‘E — Officials announced community spread of COVID-19 on Kaua‘i Friday, after the state Department of Health announced results of an investigation into one active case on Kaua‘i.
There were no visitor arrivals at Lihu‘e Airport on Friday, according to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.
As of Friday, the number of cases on Kaua‘i remained at 19. However, 13 of those individuals either recovered or returned home to the Mainland. The remaining six active cases are residents, three in home isolation, two in isolation at a facility, and one in isolation in the hospital.
“All but one case has been confirmed to be travel-related,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami in a Friday public address. “There is no clear source of infection for one case, and therefore it has been determined by the Department of Health to be our first case of community transmission.”
State DOH Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said the local DOH branch has been preparing for the “significant milestone.”
“What this means is that the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is not just from traveling or being around travelers, but also from interacting with each other here in our own community,” Berreman said.
Officials urged the public to continue rigorous and frequent hand-washing, follow stay-at-home orders, wear cloth masks when outside of the home, and call your health-care provider or urgent care if you think you may have COVID-19.
Anyone awaiting test results is required to self-quarantine.
The mayor’s new mandates go into effect today: all golf courses are shut down and all employees of food establishments, grocery stores and stores that sell medicine are required to wear masks.
State officials reported the Hawai‘i COVID-19 death toll rose to eight on Friday, with two new deaths reported — a “medically frail” adult woman from Honolulu and an elderly male hospitalized at Maui Memorial Medical Center in the Chronic Care Unit.
In total, officials reported Friday the statewide number of positive COVID-19 cases is at 465, with nine additional cases cropping up in the City &County of Honolulu, three new cases on Hawai‘i Island, and nine new cases in Maui County.
DOH reported 16,752 people in Hawai‘i have now been tested for the virus, but that laboratories are still facing ongoing shortages of kits and supplies for testing.
The state has implemented contact testing, but DOH announced Friday that it is still sticking to recommendations that only symptomatic persons be tested.
“Testing of asymptomatic persons should be reserved for selected situations as guided by specific public-health or infection-control objectives,” DOH said in a Friday news release, citing an example of implementing cohorting during a nursing-home outbreak.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Agriculture announced it’s reviewing requests for assistance under the COVID-19 Emergency Farmer Relief Program which offers some financial assistance to qualified farmers, ranchers and producers who have experienced damage to their operations due to COVID-19.
There’s about $250,000 up for grabs in the program. Relief funds may be used to help utilize an oversupply of agricultural products resulting from the decreased demand due to closures of restaurants, schools and other businesses. Applications were accepted until March 27 and 333 applications were received.
Jessica Else, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or email@example.com.