Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Commercial Harbors Remain Open; DOH Advises Against Large Gatherings

March 13, 2020, 4:30 PM HST
* Updated March 13, 4:16 PM
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Rumors that commercial harbors are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic are false.

During a press conference with the Hawai‘i Department of Health on Friday, Spokesman for Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Tim Sakahara said all commercial harbors are open and shipping containments continue to operate as normal.

Sakahara emphasized that people get their information from officials sources.

“The harbor system is critically important to our existence,” he said, adding 80% of Hawai‘i’s goods are imported and 99% come into the harbors.

“We want people to keep that in mind whey make their next trip to Costco,” Sakahara added.

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Matson Shipping issued the following statement in response to concerns circulating in Hawai‘i about service disruption:

All Matson operations continue uninterrupted. Matson intends to maintain all service schedules as normal with three arrivals a week to Honolulu and twice a week calls to each neighbor island port.
Matson is committed to taking all appropriate steps to ensure the continuation of services, including the deployment of reserve vessels if necessary to continue meeting the needs of our customers.
Matson is monitoring developments closely and ensuring compliance with all United States Coast Guard and local, federal and international government reporting and prevention directives for maritime operations. Matson also has frequent and regular communication with the United States Coast Guard and Hawai‘i State Department of Transportation regarding commercial port operations.

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The DOH also provided new guidance on public gatherings as schools close for spring break, March 16-20, advising to stay away from crowds or public events that include 100 people or more to avoid potential transmission of the novel coronavirus.

On Friday, DOH Director Bruce Anderson said who anyone does end up in a large-group setting should continue hand washing, stay away if feeling ill and keep up personal hygiene.

“Everyone should be vigilant and not expose themselves unnecessarily to COVID-19,” Anderson said.

Officials also suggest canceling such events. However, if someone finds themself in a large gathering, attendees should be no fewer than two-arms-length or six feet apart. Elderly adults and those with underlying health conditions who are at a greater risk for COVID-19 or respiratory illnesses should avoid attending large public gatherings.

At this point, Anderson said, health officials are not recommending schools close when classes go back in session.

“We are however, recommending events at the school be postponed or canceled,” he said.

Events include, graduations, proms, sporting events and more.

“I’m confident we’re doing everything we can in identifying those risks and mitigating those risks,” Anderson said. “This may change in weeks to come, but I don’t believe we’re there yet.”

As of Friday afternoon, 40 tests have been completed statewide. There are only two confirmed cases on O‘ahu. The health department is currently awaiting two test results from individuals on Kaua‘i.

“This is just the beginning for us,” Anderson said. “It’s like a tsunami coming to us and we’re trying to get ready for this as best we can.”

On March 12, University Hawai‘i President David Lassner decided to transition all classes at all campuses to online-only instruction following the spring break. The order is effective March 23, 2020.

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