Big Island Coronavirus Updates

10 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Hawai‘i

March 16, 2020, 4:36 PM HST
* Updated March 16, 4:49 PM
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Gov. David Ige talks about supplementary proclamation during press conference, Monday.

Hawai‘i County is the only county in the state that has not yet been affected by COVID-19.

As Monday afternoon, there were a total of 10 confirmed or presumptive positive cases for the virus — six on O‘ahu, two on Maui and two on Kaua‘i.

Three new positive results were announced today for two O‘ahu residents, and one visitor on Maui. The Department of Health is monitoring all of these individuals and supervising their isolation as well as the self-quarantine of their family members.

During a press conference this afternoon, Gov. David Ige said there will be a disruption of everyday life as more cases are confirmed globally and in the islands.

“Most people with COVID-19 were exposed outside of the state, however, we’re starting to see the edge of community spread on the islands,” Ige said.

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The governor also issued a supplementary emergency proclamation, which will waive the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance as well as suspend administrative procedures and Sunshine Law requirements to allow meetings to be conducted electronically.

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“All reasonable measures will be taken to ensure public participation that is consistent with the recommendations of social distancing,” Ige said.

And finally, the supplementary proclamation provides language to prevent the hoarding of items needed for public welfare.

“We are suggesting that people use restraint,” Ige said. “There has been no interruption into supply lines. Matson and other shipping companies continue to operate under normal conditions.”

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The governor said price gouging is illegal and asked the community to report merchants to the Office of Consumer Protection if there is evidence of increased prices on general welfare products.

Ige also named Kenneth Hara as the director of the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency.

Hara reminded the public that the National Guard is not taking over. However, there are a handful of guardsmen who will be assisting as planners and organizers.

“The decision to put me in place was to align policies with the national response framework,” Hara said.

There are 42 testing centers established statewide, with five being on the Big Island.

“As the governor said, the screening sites are for patients who meet screening criteria for COVID-19,” said Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i. “A physician’s order is required to take a sample for screening.”

The screening process entails three questions:

  • Do you have a fever, cough or hard time breathing?
  • Have you been in contact with someone who’s sick or has COVID-19?
  • Have you been to a country or area where there is COVID-19?

If the patient meets the criteria, a sample is taken. At that point, Raethel said, individuals are asked to self-isolate until they get results back, which will take three to four days.

“We are asking those who are sick or have symptoms to see if they should be tested for the virus,” Ige said. “We’re asking those who are not sick to not request to get tested, as it ties up health resources.”

The governor is encouraging businesses to look at their operations and encourage social distancing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines that indicate no gatherings of 50 or more people should be convened.

“We know that the family lives will be impacted by COVID-19 for months — two months at the minimum,” Ige said.

Moving forward, there are no plans at this time for any community lockdowns and state officials are continually looking at what actions they can take to ensure the islands are safe.

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