(BIVN) – The Big Island has its first case of COVID-19.
The infection is one of 13 total in the State of Hawaiʻi, according to a health department update posted at noon. The number includes both presumptive and confirmed cases. Of the other 12 reported cases, 8 are on Oʻahu, 2 are on Kauai, and 2 are on Maui.
UPDATE (3:40 p.m.) – “We know that the one on the Big Island is a traveler [from the mainland] and a non-resident,” said Dr. Sarah Park, Hawaii State Epidemiologist, during a Joint Information Center media briefing.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Health also posted the following:
As COVID-19 spreads globally and now nationally, we are detecting more cases introduced into our state by both visitors and residents alike. While we do not yet have an indication of community transmission, these introductions are concerning, and each represents an opportunity for COVID-19 to spread in our state. Now is the time for everyone in our community to practice social distancing (i.e., maintain at least 6 ft distance or 2 arm’s length, whichever is longer, from others) to protect especially those who are most vulnerable in our community. If you get sick, please stay home—get rest, drink plenty of fluids, and get better. If you are older or have an underlying medical condition and become ill, call your doctor.
Confusion In Kona
Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense, in its 10 a.m. message, identified three coronavirus test facilities in Hawaiʻi County. Two of those locations, without dispute, are located at Hilo Medical Center and North Hawaii Community Hospital.
There was confusion, however, over the third location.
Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense reported that Kona Community Hospital is a testing site, but the hospital says that is wrong.
“Kona Community Hospital is NOT a walk-up or drive-up testing site for COVID-19 (coronavirus). COVID-19 testing at KCH is limited to admitted Emergency Department and hospital in-patients only,” a hospital spokesperson stated in a message shared with media and with civil defense.
The County and Kona Hospital later appeared to agree on the following statement:
….they are testing on a patient-only basis, not what they call community testing (in a tent, with a prescription from a doctor who already screened the patient.) They first test for the two common strains of influenza, A and B, and if the patient doesn’t show positive results for them, they test for coronavirus. They are not doing drive-through testing, unlike Hilo Medical. Kona’s driveway is winding and steep so drive-through testing won’t work. If patients show flu-like symptoms, they are immediately screened per CDC guidelines. They are admitted to the Emergency Department and the nurse will refer the patient to a physician, who will decide how to proceed.
Sheriff Suspends All Evictions
From the Hawaiʻi Department of Public Safety:
The Hawaii Department of Public Safety Sheriff Division is suspending all eviction activities as part of the Department’s COVID-19 response efforts.
“In light of the Governor’s recent State of Emergency declaration, the Judiciary limiting court proceedings, and the rapidly evolving situation, we felt it was in the best interest of our community to suspend these actions,” said Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda.
The temporary hold on evictions is effective immediately. This suspension will be reevaluated at a later date.
Hawaii DOT Actions
The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT) Highways Division is taking the following actions to manage Covid-19 concerns.
- Permits for events such as races or rides on the State Highways system through April will be withdrawn.
- Public meetings such as the Aina meetings for the Farrington Highway Corridor Study will be postponed. Community members are encouraged to visit this website to submit comments.
- Preparing to move in-person services such as permit applications online. A separate news release with details will be sent out when these services are available.
State Parks Closed
The Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources today announced the closure of six state parks on the Big Island, as well as numerous other DLNR offices and facilities.
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Update
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park remains open but is ending all special events and programs as of today.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program became available this week to businesses that are being impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). These working capital loans of up to $2 million can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance is coordinating with the Hawaii Governor’s Office to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan Assistance. In order to make an economic injury declaration, we need Hawaii small business concerns that have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 disaster to submit the estimated economic impact of the disaster on their businesses by completing the attached worksheet and emailing it to: email@example.com.
The Estimated Adverse Economic Impact Section of the Economic Injury worksheet needs to be fully completed, with all questions answered regarding business revenues, whether there was any business interruption insurance, as well as the comments sections. The comments section should indicate that the economic impacts are a direct result of COVID-19. The established incident start date is January 31, 2020. DBEDT needs these forms to be returned to the above email by the 4:00PM, Wednesday March 18, 2020.
Further information will be available about the SBA Application process once the Federal government approves Hawaii’s application for disaster assistance.
Business Development & Support Division
Dept. of Business, Economic Development & Tourism
This page is being updated.