COVID-19 related news briefs

Here’s a look at other COVID-19 related news throughout the state.

Two more deaths reported

The state Department of Health has reported the deaths of two Oahu residents from COVID-19, bringing the state’s total death count from the disease to 14.

Both victims were men more than 65 years old who had underlying health issues, according to the DOH. One victim had traveled to Las Vegas in March; the other contracted the disease through community-associated spread.

“(My wife) Dawn and I join all of Hawaii in expressing our sincere condolences to the family and friends of these men,” said Gov. David Ige in a statement. “While the death rate from coronavirus in Hawaii is among the lowest in the nation, the tragic passing of these men today emphasizes the need for social distancing, staying home when sick, washing hands and other measures to protect everyone and prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths.”

Five new cases reported Friday bring the statewide COVID-19 count to 601. Statewide, 455 have been released from isolation.

One new case was reported on Hawaii Island Friday, bringing the Big Island’s total to 69. According to the DOH, 40 have been released from isolation.

State pays $68M in unemployment benefits

Between April 17-23 the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations distributed $68,097,470 in unemployment insurance benefits.

According to the state, $44,848,600 of that total includes the $600-a-week bonus made available by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law on March 27.

“The department was able to deliver a record level of benefits in a week, and for that I am tremendously grateful for our workers,” DLIR Director Scott Murakami said in a statement. “We know that there are still many in our community who are suffering and with the help of our sister departments, the Legislature, private sector partners and nonprofits, we are resolute in providing a greater level of relief as soon as possible.”

COVID-19 battle a marathon, not a sprint

State epidemiologist Sarah Park told the state Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 Friday afternoon that “we’re in for the marathon, not the sprint,” in terms of addressing the novel coronavirus in Hawaii, and a return to normalcy won’t mean “business as usual.”

To fully reopen, Park said Hawaii needs to strengthen its health care system, maintain contact tracing, and have measures in place to slow down the spread of the virus.

“We cannot keep it out, but we can slow it down,” she said. “We know how to slow it down. It’s proof that we’re living through.”

Testing in North Kohala

Premier Medical Group, with the support of Hawaii County and HOPE Services, will offer a one-day COVID-19 drive-through screening and testing clinic from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. today at Kamehameha Park in Kapa‘au, North Kohala.

This clinic is free and open to the public, but individuals must 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.

People who visit the screening clinic will be asked to show photo ID and should bring their own pen, as well as any health insurance cards they have, although insurance is not required.