(BIVN) – Officials reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the statewide total in Hawaiʻi to 37.
10 of the new cases are on Oʻahu, the health department says, and one is on Kauai. There remains only one identified case on Hawaiʻi Island.
As of 9 a.m., March 20, there have been 15,219 total cases detected in the U.S. This represents an increase of 4,777 cases from the previous day. There have been 201 deaths (increase of 51 in the past day).
Federal Government Updates
Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense reports:
The U.S. Department of State yesterday issued an advisory to all U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of the coronavirus. In countries where flights options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that Tax Day would move from April 15 to July 15 for businesses and taxpayers.
“As Americans continue to confront the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the last thing they need to worry about is the looming tax deadline,” Hawaiʻi U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono said. “This delay provides much needed flexibility for taxpayers so that we can all focus on the essential task of confronting this public health emergency.” Hirono and 19 of her Senate colleagues called for the Internal Revenue Service to extend the filing deadline to provide taxpayers additional flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kona National Park Units Close
Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau and Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Parks are announcing modifications to operations to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing. As of March 20, Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau and Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Parks are closed until further notice. All special events and guided programs, including walks and talks, and facilities are canceled or closed.
The health and safety of our employees, visitors and communitties at Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau and Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Parks are our priorites. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.
The NPS urges visitors to do their part and follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick. For High risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.
DCCA Encourages Use Of Online Services
Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) offices statewide are CLOSED to protect the health of the public and our employees as the department practices social distancing. Offices will be closed from Friday, March 20th through Friday, April 3rd. Unless otherwise noticed, DCCA’s offices will reopen on Monday, April 6th.
Pursuant to Governor David Y. Ige’s directive of March 17, 2020, to address the spread of COVID-19, all DCCA employees have been directed to not report to the office and telework from home to the extent feasible. During this period of office closure, no walk-in services will be available and the public is strongly encouraged to use our online services. Phone services will also be limited and email contact is recommended, contact information for each agency can be found [here].
The DCCA has continuously strived to improve its services to the public and has expanded the availability of online functions for a range of services to include business filings, and professional and vocational licensing, and more.
Check our website for a full listing of online services [here].
From the County of Hawaiʻi:
Your County of Hawaii has established a COVID-19 website dedicated to providing you up-to-date information about the coronavirus. To access this information site, visit [this website] or click on the coronavirus link at the top of the County of Hawaii homepage.
Your County of Hawaii is committed to maintaining public services and operations during this period and has implemented proactive preventive measures of disinfecting, sanitizing, and social distancing at all County facilities. Please be prepared to sanitize your hands and to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet when around others.
As provided on Wednesday, Hawaii Island businesses and places of worship that remain open are to proactively address minimizing risk to your personnel and your customers. This is of assurance of proactive cleanliness of disinfecting and sanitizing your facility and implementing of social distancing.
Those that remain open, the County of Hawaii is available to assist any and all entities with ideas and ways to safely remain open and to keep our communities safe. Should your business or place of worship need assistance, please call Civil Defense at 935-0031.
UPDATE (2:30 p.m.) – Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim said during an emergency meeting with the Hawaiʻi County Council on Friday that the county plans to close all beach parks due to the pandemic.
The Department of Health, along with Hawaii Island healthcare partners, has established 2 coronavirus test facilities in Hawaii County at:
- Hilo Medical Center
- North Hawaii Community Hospital
Please be advised that individuals who are NOT sick, who are NOT symptomatic, that are NOT presenting flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, or dry cough will not be considered for testing.
In order to be tested, your physician or a health clinic must prescribe the test to be done, and you must have a valid ID and an insurance card. For those who do not have a healthcare doctor or insurance, evaluation will be conducted at the Emergency Room.
Hawaii AG On Health Coverage During Pandemic
Following an alert from the Trump Administration purporting to address the policy denying health care to lawful immigrants, Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors joined a coalition led by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson calling on the Trump Administration to delay its “public charge” rule while the COVID-19 outbreak spreads across the nation.
Per the letter, the coalition asserts that while the COVID-19 public health crisis continues, the Trump Administration refuses to confirm that attempts by lawful immigrants to access health coverage will not impair their ability to stay in the country.
“The impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak are increasing day-by-day on our state,” said Attorney General Connors. “The administration’s rule discourages individuals from seeking medical care even though they are lawfully entitled to receive it. This is potentially devastating given our country’s current crisis situation.”
Federal law allows many lawful immigrants to apply for public benefits, such as health care, if they have been in the country for at least five years. The new rule creates a “bait-and-switch” ― if immigrants use the public assistance to which they are legally entitled, they would jeopardize their chances of later renewing their visa or becoming permanent residents.
Today’s letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) senior official Ken Cuccinelli, follows a March 6 letter the attorneys general sent to the same officials calling for the rule’s suspension. Though neither official responded to the initial letter, USCIS posted an “alert” on March 13 that said the government would not consider any form of testing or care related to COVID-19 in immigrants’ public charge assessment, “even if such treatment is provided or paid for by one or more public benefits, as defined in the rule (e.g. federally funded Medicaid).”
However, the letter points out that the alert contains confusing and internally contradictory statements about the impact using Medicaid will have on non-citizens.
“If DHS is attempting to ensure noncitizens in our communities remain enrolled in Medicaid so they can use Medicaid services should they have symptoms of COVID-19, the Alert fails to achieve this,” the attorneys general’s letter states. “And likewise, if DHS is attempting to ensure that noncitizens seek testing and treatment for COVID-19 without fear of public charge consequences, the Alert also utterly fails to achieve this.”
“The Alert fails to recognize that in order to receive adequate health services, our residents need adequate health insurance benefits,” the letter continues. “To achieve DHS’s stated goal of encouraging noncitizens to seek testing and treatment for COVID-19, noncitizens must be encouraged to enroll or remain enrolled in health insurance programs, including Medicaid, and they must be assured that such enrollment during this dire national health emergency will not be considered in any future public charge determination.”
The conflicting statements could cause immigrants to forgo medical treatment that could be critical to protecting our communities from the spread of the virus, the attorneys general write.
“Given the grave danger facing our nation’s health and economy, it is imperative that DHS not chill immigrants from enrolling in Medicaid or using Medicaid benefits for any purpose until the COVID-19 crisis is over. Under the Alert, however, noncitizens who remain enrolled in Medicaid continue to risk their green cards and visas. As DHS previously conceded, this will prompt immigrants to disenroll from Medicaid and lead to an ‘increased prevalence of communicable diseases,’ as the nation is now experiencing at a horrifying rate.
“To protect the residents of our states and the rest of the country, we ask that DHS immediately announce that the Rule is stayed pending successful containment of COVID-19. Short of that, however, it is imperative that DHS at least make clear that enrollment in Medicaid and the use of Medicaid benefits for any reason will not be considered in the public charge assessment. Given that these benefits were not considered in the public charge assessment for many years prior to DHS’s recent change of policy, it is inexplicably harmful for the agency to begin counting them now, during the outbreak of a lethal global pandemic.”
Joining Washington state on the letter are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C.