(BIVN) – The number of confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Hawaiʻi is now 26 as of noon on March 19, up from 16 the day before. There is still only one case reported to be confirmed on Hawaiʻi Island.
UPDATED – (1:20 p.m.) – The health department originally reported 22, but Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense, and later the director of the State Department of Health, confirmed the number is 26.
As of 7:30 a.m, March 19, there have been 10,442 total COVID-19 cases detected in the U.S. This represents an increase of 3,404 cases from the previous day. There have been 150 deaths. The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) is urging all residents to avoid travel to areas with a high burden of the disease and reconsider any travel if you are elderly or have underlying medical conditions.
On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, President Trump signed into law H.R. 6201, the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” which – the White House reports – provides for supplemental appropriations related to the COVID-19 public health emergency, as well as waivers and modifications of Federal nutrition programs, employment-related protections and benefits, health programs and insurance coverage requirements, and related tax credits during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
North Hawaii Community Hospital Expanded Testing, New Location
Drive-up testing at Queen’s North Hawai’i Community Hospital (QNHCH) will be relocated to a more convenient location starting Thursday, March 19, and testing will be expanded to 6 days a week – Monday through Saturday, 10 am – 2 pm. The new location is at the QNHCH Primary Care Clinic, 65-1267 Kawaihae Rd., located next to Longs Drugs in Waimea. Physician’s orders are not required. Patients are asked to bring ID and insurance information, and to stay in their vehicle; testing takes only a few minutes and is done while the patient stays in the vehicle.
For more information, visit coronavirus.gov or the State of Hawaii Department of Health new website hawaiicovid19.com or call the Queen’s COVID-19 Information Line at 691-2619.
Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Launches New COVID-19 Webpage
The County of Hawai‘i Civil Defense Agency has just unveiled its new COVID-19 Resources webpage.
The webpage provides a wealth of regularly-updated information you need to keep informed on the Coronavirus and how to keep yourself healthy and safe.
The link to the new webpage is [here]
For further information, call Civil Defense at 935-0031. County of Hawai‘i is an Equal Opportunity Provider and Employer.
Lt. Governor Josh Green Posts
Today, Lt. Governor Josh Green posted to social media his own suggestions to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic in Hawaii:
- We suspend all non-essential travel to Hawaii through 4/30/20,
- Anyone who comes to Hawaii gets 2 weeks quarantine,
- We contact test every positive case and isolate them completely,
- We continue to study the states that are 2-4 weeks ahead of us to prepare for all of our needs,
- We stand up extra Hospital capacity (with military support)the second we see it could help.
State Senate Special Committee
Senate President Ron Kouchi announced today that he has appointed a special committee to advise the Senate on the State of Hawai‘i’s COVID-19 plans and procedures.
The Committee members are: Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz, Senator Jarrett Keohokalole, Senator Michelle N. Kidani, Senator Donna Mercado Kim, Senator Sharon Y. Moriwaki, and Senator Kurt Fevella.
Due to social distancing measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the meetings will not be open to the public to attend in person.
The initial meetings are scheduled for today, March 19, and on Friday, March 20. Additional meetings will be announced.
Hawaiian Electric Suspends Disconnections For 30 Days
Hawaiian Electric will suspend service disconnections for 30 days so customers who are financially challenged by the coronavirus pandemic don’t have to worry about losing electric service.
Service disconnections of both residential and commercial customers will be suspended through at least April 17. Depending on the situation at that time, the special assistance period may be extended.
Customers facing financial hardship are urged to call Customer Service so payment options and schedules can be arranged to help keep payments manageable. While customers will still be responsible for paying their electric bills, payment schedules and other options can help ease the financial challenges for those most affected by the COVID-19 situation.
“With everything that’s going on, and with the impacts to the Hawaii economy just starting to be known, we don’t want people who are struggling financially to worry about having this essential service interrupted,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of customer service. “We’re providing this special assistance by setting up payment plans and making other arrangements for customers who let us know about their situation.”
Hawaii Gas Maintains Service
As the state of Hawaii faces challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaii Gas wants to assure customers that they will have continued access to gas energy for their cooking and heating needs.
To assist customers who are financially impacted by COVID-19 and unable to pay their gas bill, Hawaii Gas will not be interrupting their gas service through April 30, 2020. This special allowance period may be extended depending on the situation at that time.
Customers who are experiencing financial difficulties can call the Hawaii Gas Customer Care Team, Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., to discuss payment plan options. Island-specific phone numbers are listed in the attached news release.
Hawaii Island Humane Society Action Plan
Amid community concerns regarding COVID-19, Hawaii Island Humane Society’s top priority is keeping people safe while continuing to provide the utmost care for shelter animals. According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that companion animals have been infected or could spread the coronavirus (COVID-19).
COVID-19 Action Plan
Hawaii Island Humane Society is following the guidelines provided by the National Animal Care & Control Association regarding animal control and sheltering services during the COVID-19 crisis. Beginning on Wednesday, March 18, Hawaii Island Humane Society’s three shelters in Keaau, Waimea and Kona will continue to open to the public during normal operating hours, with limited capacity. Hawaii Island Humane Society (HIHS) shelter staff will continue to ensure that pets are fed and kennels are clean. Field trips for shelter dogs are temporarily suspended.
HIHS will provide the following essential services during this time:
• Animal Control: Animal control officers will continue to answer high priority and emergency calls. Those calls include injured or sick stray animals, cruelty and neglect complaints, bite complaints, and dangerous and aggressive dog complaints. Officers will respond to other calls as time and safety allow. HIHS’s capacity to respond to calls may be diminished during this time.
• Adoptions: Adoptions will be by appointment only. To view animals available for adoption, visit hihs.org/adoptions, and follow HIHS on Instagram (@hawaiiislandhumanesociety) and Facebook. To schedule an adoption appointment at the Keaau shelter, contact Meagan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Alyssa at email@example.com for adoption appointments at the Kona and Waimea shelters.
• Fostering: HIHS is currently faced with increased intakes, reduced adoptions and is in urgent need of fosters. While you are spending more time at home, please consider inviting a shelter pet to join you. HIHS currently has over 40 medium and large dogs available to go to a foster home today. For more information log on to hihs.org/foster or email Lauren@hihs.org.
• Intakes: If you find a lost or stray animal, please call one of the Hawaii Island Humane Society shelters to schedule an appointment to bring the pet in. While the shelters will remain open for intakes, please be prepared to wait as staff is reducing public interactions.
• Owner Surrendered Pets: Pet owners who are not facing an immediate crisis are encouraged to hold their pets for up to four weeks and surrender at a later day. Pet owners who need to immediately surrender pets can do so at their scheduled intake time.
• Lost Pets: Call or come to your nearest shelter. You will need to file a lost pet report and provide proof of ownership (photo, veterinary records).
• Other Services: Renew your pet’s license at the shelters during normal business hours. Owners requesting euthanasia services are encouraged to contact and schedule with the shelter in your area.
Hawaii Island Humane Society’s programs and services will be facilitated by staff only during this time. Microchipping, community spay and neuter, humane education classes, group visits, events and new volunteer introductions are postponed until further notice.
Hawaii Island Humane Society encourages all pet owners to be safe and prepared. Make your plans and reach out to family and friends now to discuss arrangements in case someone in your family becomes ill.
Our pets are our family, bringing comfort and emotional support. Please consider fostering and adopting as pets can bring more love into your home during these stressful times.
Hawaii Attorney General Service Changes
Pursuant to Governor David Y. Ige’s directive of March 17, 2020, that all non-essential state workers work from home, Department of the Attorney General non-essential personnel will be tele-working during the period of March 18, 2020 to April 1, 2020. The department has prepared for this contingency and anticipates minimal impact on its ability to provide legal services to the State of Hawaii.
In addition to legal services, this directive affects the department’s public operations. Please be advised as follows:
Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). Closed, but customer service representatives will be available @ 808-692-8265 or 1-888-317-9081. However, wait times may be longer than normal. CSEA will continue processing child support payments. For passport denials, or if you need documentation for public assistance, please contact 808-692-7138 and leave a message.
Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center (HCJDC). HCJDC has suspended in-person services related to fingerprinting, criminal history checks and expungements. HCJDC remains open to provide Sex Offender related registration requirements and all non in-person services. Please call 808-587-3279 or firstname.lastname@example.org for information related to all services provided by HCJDC.
Criminal Justice Agencies should continue to call our help desk at 808-586-2547 or email@example.com.
Office of Child Support Hearings. Closed, all administrative child support hearings statewide will be rescheduled to a later date. After this office reopens, parties will be contacted with continued hearing dates and times.
Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Program. Closed, but implementing limited services. The Grants and Planning Branch will continue to process requests for funds, the Juvenile Justice Information System will be operating, and the Missing Child Center is available to take referrals.
Notary Public. All in-person services are suspended. The Notary Office will continue to process applications, renewals and other matters submitted through the Online Notary Public website at: notary.ehawaii.gov or by email at: ATG.Notary@hawaii.gov.
University of Hawaiʻi Commencement Ceremonies Cancelled
Aloha University of Hawaiʻi ʻOhana,
It is with a heavy heart that I come to you with this announcement. After discussions with leadership at the campuses and system level, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all traditional commencement ceremonies at UH’s 10 campuses.
This decision has been the result of many hard conversations. Commencement is one of the most time-honored traditions in our society, and it is one of the most highly anticipated celebrations throughout our university system for students, their families and friends.
Commencement unites us across age, gender, ethnicity and personal background. Each year, our UH ʻohana looks forward to sharing in one of the most significant milestones in our students’ lives. It marks the end of one period of our lives and the beginning of the next. For our faculty and staff, it serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of the work we do in collaboration with students. We share in your disappointment that this unprecedented health crisis has robbed everyone of this moment.
To our UH Community, I encourage you to think of this moment as delayed, and not a loss. Students who would have walked in this semester’s ceremony will have the opportunity to participate when in-person commencement resumes. Our campuses have already demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness, and may consider postponing ceremonies to a future date or creating alternatives to the traditional ceremonies. Our community is strong, and we will come through this together.
It cannot be overstated that, even in the midst of this present crisis, every student who graduates this semester should be very proud of everything that they have accomplished. Nothing should eclipse the feelings of well-earned pride of our graduates and everyone who has worked hard to help them achieve this important goal.
This period of time has been turbulent to say the least. I cannot think of a similar time in my life that saw such wide-spread trauma. While it is sure to take some time to recover, I truly believe that we will be able to come out of this stronger and more resilient. I know the strength and aloha our community has for one another is boundless. I wish you and your loved ones peace and good health.
E mālama pono,
University of Hawaiʻi President