Two more Big Island cases; drive-through testing Sunday

  • This photo shows a deserted baggage claim lobby on Thursday at Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport as the state imposed a 14-day traveler quarantine to slow the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

Two more cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed on Hawaii Island, state health officials said Friday, bringing the total number of diagnosed cases in the county to seven.

No further information was immediately available from the state about the new cases.

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The Big Island cases were among 14 additional positive cases reported Friday, which brings the statewide COVID-19 tally to 120 presumptive or positive cases.

All of the newly reported cases are adults, 12 of whom are residents, one who is a nonresident, and one whose residency was unknown Friday afternoon. Ten were from Oahu and two are from Maui County.

State Health Director Bruce Anderson told the state Senate special committee on COVID-19 that there have been 5,747 tests in the state, with 5,379 of those done by private labs.

While the state has found some localized transmission of the disease, Anderson said COVID-19 is not believed to be circulating widely in the community.

The state on Friday also cautioned that with expanded COVID-19 testing, individuals might see new testing services offered by private businesses.

However, laboratories must have a CLIA, or Clinical Laboratories Improvement Amendments, certificate to perform COVID-19 testing.

Other COVID-19 related announcements from Friday:

Air arrivals are down significantly

On Thursday, the first day of the state’s 14-day mandatory self-quarantine for all incoming passengers, 1,589 travelers arrived in Hawaii by air, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Of those, 268 people were visitors, while most others were either crew members or returning residents.

Last March, more than 30,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily.

Graduation requirements could be modified

The state Department of Education is seeking approval from the Board of Education to modify high school graduation and commencement requirements.

A memo submitted by the DOE on Friday seeks flexibility in awarding a diploma or certificate to graduating seniors, based on approval from individual school administrations. There are approximately 10,000 students who are eligible to earn diplomas this year.

School facilities have been closed to students since March 19, with traditional, in-school instruction temporarily discontinued until at least April 30.

Approval of the proposed waiver “will provide educator-driven solutions to address the loss of educational content as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis,” the DOE said. This will allow class of 2020 graduates to proceed with post-secondary educational and workforce opportunities without unnecessary delays.

The DOE also said it will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and make a decision by April 15 regarding commencement ceremonies. School, complex area and state teams have started discussing alternative means of celebration in the event traditional ceremonies cannot be held.

Drive-through screening, testing

Premier Medical Group and Bay Clinic, with the support of Hawaii County’s COVID-19 Task Force, will offer a one-day drive-through screening and testing clinic from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at the Ho‘olulu Complex in Hilo.

Additionally, a one-day drive-through and testing clinic will be held from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at the Old Kona Airport Park, provided by Ali‘ Health with the support of Premier Medical and the county’s task force.

The clinics are open to the public, but individuals must first undergo a screening to determine if they meet the criteria to be tested.

Clinic physicians on site will make the determination regarding testing. The screening criteria will be based on guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State’s COVID-19 Response Task Force.

To bypass the screening queue in Kona, patients can go to Pathways Telehealth by calling 747-8321, option 5, to be screened and expedite testing.

Those who visit the screening clinics will be asked to show photo ID and should bring any health insurance cards they have, although insurance is not required.

For more information, call Civil Defense at 935-0031.

Family resources available online

Families can find local child care options, food resources, screening sites, online activities and more on a new, easy-to-use website from the Hawaii Children’s Action Network, covid19.hawaii-can.org.

“The community response to COVID-19 has been incredible,” Executive Director Deborah Zysman said. “We want to help by making it easier for families to find and access all of these new resources.”

The website is free and mobile-friendly. Users can choose to view resources by island or category.

The website will be updated as new resources become available and the public is invited to contribute new resources by emailing info@hawaii-can.org. Other companies and organizations are also invited to embed the map on their own websites.

Library system extends closure

All public library locations and bookmobile services will be suspended through May 5, and all book drops continue to be closed.

Individuals should hold onto library materials until facilities are open again. Due dates and holds have been automatically extended.

All items checked out starting March 16, will have a due date of May 13, and no fines will be charged for items due between now and May 6.

Nonprofit funding donated

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The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has gifted $4 million in emergency grant funding, including $400,000 in Hawaii, to help stabilize nonprofits that are facing challenges while continuing to provide vital services to those who are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

Local nonprofits receiving funding include the Catholic Charities of Hawaii, Family Life Center Hawaii, Family Promise of Hawaii, The Food Basket, Hawaii Foodbank Oahu, HOPE Services Hawaii, Institute for Human Services, Kauai Independent Food Bank and Maui Food Bank.

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