The Latest Developments:

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Hawaii rose to 37 from 26, state health officials said Friday. Two of the 11 new cases confirmed by commercial laboratories are considered Hawaii’s first community transmitted cases, said Hawaii Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson.

According to the CDC, community spread means people have become infected in an area and aren’t sure how or where they were infected. Previously, health officials said all of Hawaii’s cases were related to people traveling out of state or having contact with travelers.

In Waikiki, the 818-room Hale Koa Hotel said it will close at least through March in response to the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported. The property is operated by the U.S. military for service members, veterans and their families. There haven’t been any reported cases of COVID-19 at the hotel.

The Associated Press also reported that six Hawaii residents were allowed to leave a cruise ship that arrived Friday at Honolulu Harbor after being turned away from other ports.

Hawaii officials had said the 842 passengers on Holland America Line’s Maasdam cruise ship could disembark and catch flights home. But the state reversed course and later said the ship would only be allowed to re-fuel and re-supply in Honolulu. The Harbors Division of the state Department of Transportation will only allow Hawaii residents to disembark cruise ships, according to the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19.

Cruise ship Maasdam arrived in Honolulu Harbor amid Coronavirus concerns. No passengers were allowed to disembark.

Only Hawaii residents are being allowed to disembark the cruise ship Maasdam, which arrived in Honolulu Harbor amid the coronavirus crisis.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Also on Friday, the Honolulu City Council sent a letter to Gov. David Ige asking him to implement tougher measures to prevent tourists from coming to Hawaii and possibly spreading the disease. The council asked Ige to impose a mandatory 14-day quarantine for new visitors. Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he supported the council’s request.

In a similar development, state lawmakers representing districts on the Big Island called on Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim to order county residents to shelter in place for 15 days. The 11 legislators who wrote the letter also want Kim to restrict out-of-state travel, secure medical supplies and close all public facilities as well as public and private schools. “As Mayor, you are the only person who has the direct authority to institute these actions,” the letter reads.

Questions And Answers: Here are more answers Civil Beat found in response to concerns you sent us.

 How does COVID-19 compare to the flu? 

As the outbreak has evolved since December 2019, scientists have been able to gather more information about the contagious nature of COVID-19 compared to the flu. On average, about 1.3 people will be infected by one individual with the flu. By comparison, 2 to 2.5 people could be infected by one individual ill with the coronavirus.

Keep in mind we may never know the true number of folks infected, since some may not be symptomatic or hospitalized, which can artificially inflate the fatality rate.

The flu’s incubation time from exposure to first symptoms range from one to 14 days, whereas COVID-19 can appear as much as two weeks after exposure.

Current hospitalization rates for COVID-19 are also higher than the flu.

The exact death rate is still unclear, but COVID-19 appears to kill a larger proportion of infected people than the flu, and it can be especially harmful to people over 80 years old.

How many people will become infected in Hawaii? 

State officials are hesitant to predict the total, but say they expect the number of reported cases to rise in the future, in part because of increased testing capabilities by private laboratories.

“The extent of private laboratory testing has increased dramatically — we’re now able to test thousands of people and that makes a difference,” Anderson, the DOH director, said Friday. “I would expect to see more cases now that we have more testing than we’ve been able to do in the past.”

How The Coronavirus Has Changed Your Behavior: We also asked people what they’ve been doing differently since hearing about the virus. Here are a few things they’ve told us:

  • “I stopped going out to dinner before the ban. I don’t gather in groups.”
  • “We stocked up when we saw the events in Europe unfolding.”
  • “Work is cancelled (so) I stay at home. All my employees and I have no income.”

We have many more questions to answer so stay tuned for similar posts each day. Meanwhile, use the form below to ask us anything and tell us what, if anything, you’re doing differently to avoid getting sick.

Coronavirus Survey

Please fill out this form to let us know your most pressing questions about COVID-19 and any practices or changes in lifestyle you've made because of it.
  • (We won't publish any responses without your permission.)

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