Five months into the pandemic, many are fatigued by the restrictions and sacrifices made to slow the spread of COVID–19. Although it has been repeated for months – wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay home when sick – some have become lax in their adherence to these key practices and now Hawai‘i is seeing a surge in cases, mostly on O‘ahu. Even more worrisome is that state officials project that our hospital capacity could be exceeded by the end of the month if cases continue to rise.
In an effort to reign in the number of cases, the government reinstituted several restrictions to slow the spread. To prevent the outbreak from spreading to the neighbor islands, Governor David Ige reinstated the mandatory 14-day quarantine for inter-island travelers going to Maui County, Kaua‘i, and the Big Island from August 11-31. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell cracked down on locations where people were not adhering to social distancing and gathering limits, such as bars, beaches, parks, and trails, until September 4. The Department of Education pushed back the start date for public schools to August 17. Last week, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto announced the distance learning plan for O‘ahu public schools and is working with neighbor island superintendents to determine the plans for other counties. While these setbacks are disappointing, we all need to do our part to stop the spread of COVID–19 before even more restrictions are put into place.
Last week’s Public Health Action webinar featured Lieutenant Governor Josh Green where he shared his thoughts on the rising COVID–19 cases in Hawaiʻi and recommended policy actions. You can watch the webinar here, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. We are still continuing the Public Health Action webinars on a bi-weekly basis, with the next one on Wednesday, August 19. To ensure that you receive our latest training information, please sign-up for the Public Health Training Hui by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of the recent COVID–19 clusters in Hawai‘i are a result of social interactions in the workplace. Share your experiences and challenges with the Department of Health, and find seven tips on workplace safe practices.
Sign-on to a letter asking Hawaiian Electric to extend their suspension on electricity shut-offs due to nonpayment and to implement various bill forgiveness measures for at least another six months. Deadline to sign-on is August 14.
The 14-day mandatory inter-island travel quarantine is being reinstated for all people traveling to Kaua‘i, Maui, and Hawaiʻi counties from August 11-31. This does not apply to inter-island travelers arriving on O‘ahu. Trans-Pacific travelers are still required to quarantine for 14 days.
Travel exemptions are allowed for medical reasons or for essential workers, but only allow travelers to leave quarantine to conduct their essential business. For example, a worker would only be allowed to leave their place of lodging for essential work purposes. Requests for exemptions vary by county:
- Kaua‘i County: Fill out form online.
- Maui County: Email the request to TravelExemption@mauicounty.gov and attach a copy of government ID and either a letter from the treating physician (medical exemption) or employer describing the essential work (essential work exemption). Click here for more information.
- Hawai‘i County: Fill out the form online. Click here for more information.
Hawai‘i public schools will now start the new school year on August 17. Due to the high number of COVID–19 cases on O‘ahu, public schools on O‘ahu will transition to distance learning for the first four weeks of school. Neighbor Island public schools planned to implement a blended learning model, but Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is continuing to work with neighbor island superintendents.
Thermal temperature screening equipment is now in use at airports across the state at gates welcoming trans-Pacific travelers, and hopes to detect any passengers with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher. Click here to learn more.
City and County of Honolulu
Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued the Act With Care, Do Not Gather Order that reinstates several restrictions from August 8 – September 4:
- Beaches, parks, botanical gardens, and campgrounds are closed. This includes pools, playgrounds, courts, fields, exercise equipment, dog parks, skate parks, and People’s open markets. People may traverse through parks or beaches only to access the water for activities such as swimming, surfing, or fishing. Running, jogging, walking and biking through the parks won’t be allowed.
- Bars are closed, and restaurants cannot serve alcohol after 10 PM.
- Indoor attractions such as bowling alleys, arcades, and mini-golf facilities are closed.
- Fitness centers may remain open, but group fitness classes are prohibited.
- Both indoor and outdoor social gatherings are still limited to 10 individuals.
In addition, the Honolulu Police Department is increasing enforcement efforts. The public may report violations of the Mayor’s orders by calling (808) 723-3900 or emailing email@example.com.
Kokua Maui County Small Business Recovery & Relief Fund aims to help local small businesses recover and survive impacts from COVID–19. The fund covers up to $7,500 in reimbursable business expenses limited to rent/lease payments, utility payments and COVID–19-related safety precautions at the place of business. Learn more and apply online here – deadline for applications is October 31.
SHOW ALOHA, WEAR A MASK
COVID–19 VIDEOS IN ENGLISH AND HAWAIIAN
University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine students created videos to remind people about the importance of washing your hands, wearing face masks, practicing physical distancing, exercise during COVID–19, and more.
PUBLIC HEALTH TIP OF THE WEEK
As the start of the school year approaches, many parents and teachers are anxious about balancing the educational needs of students, the health and safety of students and staff, and the childcare needs of parents. The CDC has created a decision-making tool to help parents think through school re-entry and the choices that schools are offering, and the chart above provides information on the relative risks of different school activities as parents decide which learning option is best for their family.
HAWAI‘I C.A.R.E.S. HOTLINE
Hawai‘i Coordinated Access Resource Entry System (C.A.R.E.S.) is a 24/7 hotline for crisis support, mental health resources, and substance use treatment services. To access services through Hawai‘i C.A.R.E.S., call 1 (800) 753-6879 or text ALOHA to 741741.
FEED THE HUNGER FUND SMALL BUSINESS LOANS
Feed the Hunger Fund is offering loans to small farmers and food entrepreneurs who have been severely affected by COVID–19, with the goal of revitalizing Hawaii’s economy. Apply online or contact Aaron Ellis (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Shandis Ching (email@example.com) for questions.
PROVIDER RELIEF FUND WEBINAR
Join the US Department of Health and Human Services for a call on Tuesday, August 11 at 9:00 AM HST for updates about the Provider Relief Fund, which provides payments to a wide range of healthcare providers for expenses and lost revenue due to COVID–19. This call is targeted specifically for associations and asks them to help share this information to their provider constituencies. Register for the call here to receive call-in information. If you have any questions, please reach out to Caryn Marks (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HAWAI‘I COVID–19 HEALTHCARE PROVIDER TASKFORCE
Hawai‘i COVID–19 Healthcare Provider Taskforce works to align healthcare workers, providers and scientists in Hawaiʻi in the fight against COVID–19. Their efforts include several letters to Hawaii’s leadership with recommendations on COVID–19 response, as well as hosting webinars and posting resources. They are working on a new letter this week with recommendations on contact tracing, testing, public guidance/communications, and travel requirements – please check the website to review and sign to support the letter. You can also sign-up for updates at https://hicovid.org/.
DO YOU HAVE RESOURCES OR INFORMATION ON COVID–19 TO SHARE?
If you have any resources or updates we should include in our next weekly email or website, feel free to contact us at email@example.com.