Kim Says No Changes Coming to Big Island, as State Discusses Return to Interisland Quarantine and Lockdown

August 3, 2020, 2:33 PM HST (Updated August 3, 2020, 7:56 PM)
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Hawai‘i counted 207 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, shattering the statewide record for daily coronavirus figures, but it won’t change day-to-day life on the Big Island.

Mayor Harry Kim told Big Island Now in an interview Monday afternoon that all bars and beaches will remain open across Hawai‘i County, and gathering limits will remain the same both indoors (50) and outdoors (100) regardless of any policies put in place at the state level.

Honolulu County closed all its bars for three weeks last Friday and implemented gathering limits of 10 people or less both indoors and outdoors Monday. Gov. David Ige has called a press conference for 2:30 p.m. Monday in light of the new COVID-19 numbers, which were deflated over the weekend (132 total on Saturday and Sunday) but inflated Monday (207) due to delays in test processing.

Mayor Kim said he was part of a long meeting Monday with the state Department of Health, Gov. David Ige, all county mayors, and several others to discuss major policy implications from the surge. Lt. Gov. Josh Green has said in recent days a statewide lockdown may be the only way to get back to lower COVID-19 rates.

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However, Kim said a lockdown like the one the governor implemented in late March isn’t yet on the table.

Kim said the Big Island administration does not support a return to statewide lockdown, but that he has continued to express his concern about a pre-travel testing program set for Sept. 1, which would allow for travelers to earn exemptions from the out-of-state quarantine by providing proof of a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of boarding their planes.

The Big Island mayor added that he, and several others Monday, expressed concern over the re-admitting of thousands of college students into the University of Hawai‘i system, as they will return to the state without proper pre-testing.

“I was very strong in reinforcing my position in regards to opening up our doors to tourism without the controls in place, as well as the University system,” said Kim, adding the reporting, testing, and tracing system is not yet in place.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino continued Monday to press for the state to resume the 14-day interisland travel quarantine because of the soaring case counts on O‘ahu, Kim said.

As for Hawai‘i County, it remains in the best shape in the state. There are currently two active cases on the Big Island, following nearly a week with zero new cases.

Both cases, Kim said, are travel-related. One person went to the mainland, stayed for a week, and came back positive for the virus. The other was a traveling nurse meant for Hilo Medical Center.

However, after a traveling healthcare professional tested positive at Ka‘u Hospital in mid-July, HMC implemented a policy to test all incoming nurses and physicians before allowing them to see patients. As a result, that nurse came into contact with zero patients or personnel at the hospital, Kim said.

Both positive Big Island cases are in isolation. Neither has been hospitalized.

Max Dible
Max Dible is the News Director for both Big Island Now and Kauai Now. He also serves as News Director for Pacific Media Group's Hawai‘i Island family of radio stations. He formerly worked as a community reporter for West Hawai‘i Today in Kailua-Kona from 2016 to 2019. Before that, he was a sports editor, sports reporter, and radio talk show personality covering college athletics in Iowa. He's won several regional and national journalism awards, at both the collegiate and professional levels, for breaking news, long-form feature writing, and his work as a sports columnist.

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