The Latest Developments: The total of people testing positive for COVID-19 rose to 56 Sunday, with eight new cases — six on Oahu and two on Maui. More than 3,000 tests, primarily by private labs, have been performed in Hawaii to date.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed an emergency order on Sunday mandating all Oahu residents and visitors, other than essential workers, stay at home. Exemptions are allowed for grocery shopping, visiting your doctor or pharmacist or outdoor activities.

Maui Mayor Mike Victorino issued a similar “stay at home, work at home” order for that island on Sunday.

Hawaiian Airlines announced that it was suspending nearly all its long-haul flights to the mainland and overseas after Wednesday. The company will continue to provide one daily nonstop flight between Honolulu and Los Angeles and its Thursday flight between Honolulu and American Samoa.

Hawaiian Airlines arrives at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
Hawaiian Airlines announced Sunday it was suspending virtually all flights to the mainland and overseas. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

A cruise ship that had to cut short its trip because of the coronavirus and mechanical problems docked Sunday in Honolulu’s harbor. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that the roughly 1,700 passengers on board the Norwegian Jewel will be allowed to disembark because the ship can’t be repaired while they are on board.

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

Why aren’t we testing those with mild to moderate symptoms? We know that asymptomatic people can spread the novel coronavirus.

There’s a couple of reasons for this, according to state health officials.

First, they cite limited resources. Hawaii’s testing has resulted in 56 cases of COVID-19 to date, but testing has been relatively slow here as it has been across the U.S.  We don’t have a complete picture of the virus’ prevalence. We only know what our more than 3,000 tests have revealed thus far.

Efforts to test in the U.S. were delayed by errors in U.S. testing kit development, among other issues.

Second, as we have seen in other countries, health officials say outbreaks can become so widespread that it is important to conserve testing resources for health care workers on the frontlines and those who are severely ill so we can be sure to know who is at risk for infecting others. In areas that have significant outbreaks, federal authorities say testing should be reserved for health care workers and hospital patients. 

The Hawaii Department of Health has directed anyone who is feeling ill to stay home to recover and self-isolate, with the intent to prevent those people from spreading the disease. Those who are healthy or have mild symptoms are expected to recover at home in isolation. The more people who frequent testing areas, the more chance it could be transmitted. What health officials do not want is someone who has mild symptoms, thinking it’s COVID-19 but it’s actually just the flu, to expose themselves: just the act of going to a testing site could put them at a higher risk for actually contracting COVID-19.

Researchers are still looking into how infectious asymptomatic people are, but DOH Director Bruce Anderson says it is people who are most symptomatic who are most likely to pass the infection on to someone else.

In Los Angeles County, the public health system directed doctors to not bother testing folks if it would not alter their treatment plan.

However, many leaders in Hawaii, including Lt. Gov. Josh Green, say the state’s pace is too slow and want much wider testing.

At a certain point, if things continue to get worse, some believe the testing discussion could become moot, especially if there continues to be no set treatment or vaccine. “At some point we’re going to have so many people infected you don’t need to test anymore, if that makes sense,” said Oahu physician Dr. Ryan Roth.

Do we really just give up our freedoms?

As it stands, Hawaii residents are still free to go outside to get fresh air, go to the grocery store and other necessary errands, but gatherings of 10 people or more are forbidden, based on CDC recommendations.

According to the Hawaii DOH, it is crucial for people who are sick or recently traveled to self-isolate for two weeks. An official policy requiring everyone arriving by plane to the islands to stay home for two weeks goes into effect on Thursday.

Some people are practicing “social distancing” but others are not. The new shelter-in-place mandate with penalties for non-compliance instituted by the mayors of Honolulu and Maui could really change life here. However, in those counties, as well as states where there are such policies, people are still free to leave for essential errands to the bank, doctor, pharmacy, and grocery store.

“I think it’s good for people to have the opportunity to get out, go hiking, swimming, fishing, surfing, doing the things they’d normally do, but we certainly don’t want people to be exposing themselves to others or have them exposed to individuals who may be ill,” said DOH Director Bruce Anderson.

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:

  • “Never liked crowds in the first place, so not much big change.”
  • “Not attending classes at Senior Center. Gave away concert tickets. Not flying to mainland for a family wedding. Added more cans to emergency food.”

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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