Keeping COVID spread at bay on Kaua‘i

LIHU‘E — While there have not been any new cases reported on Kaua‘i in about a week, yesterday, Mayor Derek Kawakami announced that the most recent case reported on the island had no known travel connection, and has been categorized community spread.

“This is not our first case of community transmission on Kaua‘i,” Kawakami said in his Daily COVID-19 Update Wednesday. “Thankfully, we were able to avoid a widespread outbreak through active contact tracing, and proper isolation and quarantine from cooperative cases and their identified close contacts. But it serves as a warning. As a community, we need to be extremely diligent.”

Yesterday, the state reported 277 new cases and the deaths of two O‘ahu men with underlying health conditions. This brings Hawai‘is death toll to 51. The state has seen a cumulative total of 6,626 cases since the start of the pandemic.

State officials expressed concern about increasing activity on Maui and Hawai‘i islands.

Hawai‘i island reported 23 new cases for a cumulative total of 243 and Maui has eight additional cases for a cumulative total of 311. The rest of the cases, 245, were on O‘ahu.

Kaua‘i County has not reported any new cases on the island since Thursday, Aug. 20. There are currently one active case with a cumulative total of 56 positive cases reported since March.

The inter-island quarantine is one of Kaua‘i‘s “biggest protective measures that we have right now,” State Department of Health Kaua’i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said Wednesday morning.

“Now the disease is on O’ahu and actually increasingly on the other neighbor islands, we’re literally an island oasis with it around us,” Berreman said. “I don’t mean that to be alarming, but it means this is the time to continue all of the things that we have done.”

Berreman gave the Kaua‘i County Council a briefing on the county’s contact tracing capacity and general updates on how the county is faring through the pandemic.

The department currently has 60 District Health Office employees and one Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps member trained as contact tracers. Six of these tracers are also trained as case investigators who serve as team leads. An additional five KMRC members are currently being hired with federal funds.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials recommends 30 contact tracers per 100,000 population.

Active tracer counts vary, Berreman said, but generally, there are four to six daily with case and contact activity.

In July, the county identified 155 contacts and performed over 150 coronavirus tests. This testing helped to identify an additional 20 cases among contacts. Over a three week period, 20 contact tracers were activated daily, the most at any given time to date.

Close contacts are typically household members, caregivers or somebody directly coughed or sneezed on, Berreman explained. Depending on circumstances, friends and colleagues could also be close contacts, but that depends on when the contact was made (within two days of when symptoms occurred) and if it was greater than 15 minutes less than 6 feet apart.

Due to the lack of cases on island, Berreman has offered Kaua‘i contract tracers to O‘ahu for practical training and to help with its surge of cases. Additional outreach the county’s District Health Office has done includes creating a multi-lingual informative video educating the community about COVID-19, and working with the state on informative data points the county uses to track cases.

There are four “control actions” the department follows: prevent, detect, contain and treat, Berreman said.

Prevention includes wearing a mask, despite what some others may say, Berreman said.

“National leadership from the very top-down, since the very beginning of this has done our country a disservice,” Berreman said during the meeting. “We have not had clear leadership from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Later in the day, Berreman joined Kawakami in his daily video.

“Community transmission happens when people gather closely with people other than their household members. The risk is high right now,” Berreman said. “As a community, we need to keep our guard up. We need to follow the existing rules, both to the spirit and the letter.”

“I would ask you to please not focus on looking for loopholes, but rather on doing what we can all do to keep our community safe.”


Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or

  1. Hmmmmm August 27, 2020 4:52 am Reply

    With no traced connection and so many false positives, with testing uaed…its clear this 1 case on Kauai is a false positive.
    The common cold is a coronavirus also and shows up on these tests and is counted as Covid19 so it’s pretty obvious with more testing will show more cases, which are not Covid19.
    This needs to be taken into consideration in these types of cases.

    1. Ummmmm August 28, 2020 3:39 am Reply

      The common cold is less like Covid19 than gorillas are like humans. Are you just trying to get other people sick?

      Cite your false positive science. If you have it, we’ll all learn. If you’re spreading lies, you’re trying to kill people.

  2. Everythingisawesome August 27, 2020 5:48 am Reply

    This article included some useful information, such as the date and time it was published. Unfortunately, the truth ends there.

    “Prevention includes wearing a mask, despite what some others may say”

    Sould have read, “Prevention here on Fantasy Island includes wearing a mask, despite what decades of dealing with communicable viruses and science may say.” There. Fixed that for you.

    “National leadership from the very top-down, since the very beginning of this has done our country a disservice,”
    If she can’t be apolitical in an apolitical position, will she please step down? Her empty assertion shows she don’t have the maturity to lead and will never earn the respect of those she is supposed to be leading.

    “The risk is high right now,” More evidence that she either knows nothing, or is fearmongering. There is 1 known active case on island, according to the article. Any logical person would put the risk of transmission at about zero, unless a person with an active infection “directly coughed or sneezed on” someone.

    “Berreman has offered Kaua‘i contract tracers to O‘ahu for practical training”
    Please clarify, does this mean sending them to Oahu? To be in close proximity to likely infected individuals? Do we even need to point out how flawed up, “flawed” is the civil word, that idea is?

    Provide medical grade PPE to anyone that wants it, and give everyone else their lives back.

  3. Joe Maka August 27, 2020 6:01 am Reply

    The Hawaii State Dept. of Health website reports a total of 5,797 deaths in Hawaii from ALL causes as of June 2020. This article states that 51 of those deaths are from COVID-19. FIFTY-ONE! Many with existing health issues and likely some that never had Covid at all.
    Fear is powerful. Fear makes you run, hide, obey, and stay up at night generating more fear. We should respect and deal with Covid just like we deal with things like driving, diet, exercise etc. Don’t fear driving; drive safe and wear a seatbelt.
    Our mayors, governors, and officials want us to live in fear. Just like sheep.
    Let’s not be sheep.

    1. Joe Uncool August 28, 2020 3:42 am Reply

      Just imagine how many deaths from Covid19 there would be had all these precautions not been done.

      Our mayors, governors, and officials want us to live. Full stop.

      1. Everythingisawesome August 31, 2020 1:43 pm Reply

        I imagine fewer covid-only deaths than the number of suicides on island during the same time period. How many obituaries in the paper have you bothered to read since March? Spare us your imaginary empathy.

        1. Joe Uncool August 31, 2020 5:22 pm Reply

          You have a vivid imagination, indeed.

  4. Joanne August 27, 2020 7:20 am Reply

    The FDA has approved a new $5 rapid covid-19 antigen test by Abbott Labs. This is a gamechanger. Why quarantine those who are not sick? This can be used at the airports. A well written article by Derek Lowe explains the test and it’s pro’s and con’s. This is exciting news!

  5. Rev Dr Malama August 27, 2020 11:57 am Reply

    It doesn’t take a genius to see who has failed to close the “loopholes ” as you only have to go to the beach parks and look at the rental cars and out of state State cars arriving in mass! Yes it’s true that people are packing up the kids and driving to the west coast from Michigan to Florida and beyond!!! Then they ship the car and come to Kauai to rent a house or condo for 6 months at just over a budget that local people can afford….
    The Military is transporting personnel to land on Kauai even though they said they wouldn’t during RIMPAC but open source of information shows otherwise!
    55000 people are involved in RIMPAC from 14 countries…..
    Kauai will certainly be spiking in COVID-19 hospital cases in 2 weeks….. are we ready????
    The only job for local people is going to be joining the military as the trend to end all sustainable infrastructure and small business continues…..
    Respect and listen to the Kupuna!!!
    We want our Hawai’ian Nation back NOW!!!!

  6. J. D. August 27, 2020 12:35 pm Reply

    The virus with typically mild flu like symptoms. Has anyone interviewed the people on Kauai with the virus? How bad was it? The doctors I know tell the people that test positive to stay home and treat it like the flu. You will be fine in a few days.

    1. D.A. August 28, 2020 3:44 am Reply

      Please lead by example.

  7. Confused August 27, 2020 1:52 pm Reply

    when did the virus become a disease?

    1. Knowing August 28, 2020 3:46 am Reply

      From a popular dictionary site online:
      Virus: 2. informal. a viral disease

  8. J.D. August 28, 2020 4:34 am Reply

    Months ago I stated the virus is in Hawaii and will run it’s course. The cdc said the statistics they have reported are probably only 10% of the people that have actually had corona virus. The symptoms in most cases are so mild people did not realize they had the virus. H1N1 was much worse and children were dying. We did face mask or shut down.

    1. D.A. August 29, 2020 4:28 pm Reply

      Or looked at from another angle, you have to be that much more strict and careful to prevent the asymptomatic from infecting those more susceptible to the effects of this.

      Take 10% of everyone you know and assume they will get sick. Now take 6% of them and explain to them why your convenience is more important than their lives.

      1. Everythingisawesome August 31, 2020 1:55 pm Reply

        Clearly you are trolling.

        At what point does it become the role of Government to prevent the spread of illness? That’s a serious question. Is it one transmission? Is it 1000 transmissions? Is it a percentage of the population?

        Your question is based on the false premise that D.A.’s “convenience”, as you put it, and other’s “lives” are mutually exclusive. There is no reason that both can’t exist in the same world.

        Give those at risk, and anyone else who wants it, medical grade PPE and give everyone else their lives back.

        1. D.A. August 31, 2020 5:25 pm Reply

          You don’t know much about epidemiology, do you? That’s the problem with the “me first” attitude that so many have these days… You just want what you want, and damn the rest of us.

          Also, please look up what trolling is. You got that wrong, too.

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