Other coronavirus-related news

Here are some other coronavirus-related news items from throughout the state.

2 more COVID-19 deaths; statewide cases rise to 586

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The state Department of Health reported two additional coronavirus deaths. There have been 12 deaths statewide since tracking began Feb. 28.

The two new deaths occurred on Oahu and Maui, and both were men who were 65 or older.

On Oahu, the man had underlying health conditions and was hospitalized in late March. After getting better, he was discharged, but his health subsequently declined and he passed away Monday at home.

On Maui, the man who died also had underlying health conditions. He was in the hospital at Maui Memorial Medical Center since late last year. The man’s death is considered related to the Maui hospital cluster, which as of Monday had 36 staff and 20 patients under investigation as potentially associated with the cluster.

Meanwhile, two new cases of the coronavirus were reported Tuesday by the DOH; both are adults on Maui. Total cases of COVID-19 reported in Hawaii since Feb. 28 is 586.

In Hawaii County, there have been 64 cases, 38 of which recovered. Thirty-two of the county’s cases are associated with a cluster associated with two McDonald’s locations in Kailua-Kona.

TMT donates $100K to The Food Basket

The Food Basket, Hawaii Island’s food bank, received a $100,000 donation from the Thirty Meter Telescope to meet the growing demand for food assistance on the island amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding will be used to support The Food Basket’s existing programs, including Ohana Drops, the Kupuna Pantry and Da Box Program.

TMT’s donation was made in memory of Barry Taniguchi of KTA Super Stores. He was a longtime TMT supporter who helped establish The Food Basket and was its chairman at the time of his death.

“We’re incredibly grateful to TMT for this generous gift that will have a significant and meaningful impact in the community,” said The Food Basket Executive Director Kristin Frost Albrecht. “Calls for food assistance have tripled since the COVID-19 crisis began, and TMT’s $100,000 donation will allow us to help anywhere between 2,000 to 20,000 people in a single month, depending on the program.”

The Food Basket has experienced a greater demand for food assistance than in other disasters, including recent volcanic eruptions and Hurricane Lane, with many first-time recipients looking for help because of being laid off or furloughed.

In addition, with Hawaii Island schools closed, many families who relied on free or subsidized school breakfasts and lunches to keep their keiki fed are facing greater need.

“We estimate we will serve 25,000 people in need on Hawaii Island in April, compared to 14,000 people in a typical month,” Albrecht said.

Two arrested on Oahu for violating order

On Oahu, a 34-year-old woman from Las Vegas and a 33-year-old man from Sydney, Australia, were arrested Tuesday morning for violating emergency rules in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Since Edwin Htun is an Australian citizen, authorities notified the embassy of his arrest.

The pair, Htun and Kimberly Kim Tien of Las Vegas, were reported by a manager at the LayLow Waikiki Hotel after being notified by an “irate” citizen that Tien was posting on Instagram, showing her being out of her hotel room in violation of the state’s 14-day-self-quarantine law for people arriving in Hawaii.

Special agents from the state Department of the Attorney General interviewed staff at the hotel and obtained records that showed the pair repeatedly left their hotel room from the day they arrived April 15 through Monday.

Tien and Htun were arrested at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday and immediately taken to the airport for their return flights.

Meanwhile, according to an Associated Press report, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Tuesday that he would extend the city’s stay-at-home order for another month to limit the spread of the virus, though he said officials would explore gradually reauthorizing some activities, such as reopening the city’s 300 parks for limited activity, which is planned to happen Saturday morning.

The city also plans to boost COVID-19 testing by spending $2 million to buy 10,000 tests to be administered by community health centers around Oahu. The money for this will be diverted from a project to replenish sand at Ala Moana Beach Park, Caldwell said.

AG urges 3M to fight price gouging

Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors joined Virginia’s AG in a coalition of 19 attorneys general in urging 3M to do more to combat inflated prices of N95 respirators and other desperately needed personal protective equipment.

There has been a critical shortage of PPE throughout the country, and distributors have been taking advantage of that and charging higher than normal prices for N95 face masks and other PPE. The coalition highlights that, while 3M committed to maintaining prices for N95 respirators, distributors and others in the marketplace have been charging unconscionable prices, according to the Connors.

“3M has an incredibly important role to play in this ongoing crisis,” Connors said. “Like other corporate citizens, we are asking 3M to step up and do the right thing, by ensuring there is no price gouging on personal protective equipment.”

Rental relief for some Hawaiians

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The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Hawaiian Homes Commission approved a program to provide rental relief to some Native Hawaiian beneficiaries.

For the latest on COVID-19 impacts on DHHL activities, visit http://dhhl.hawaii.gov/covid-19.

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