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State briefs for October 22

DOH updates school reopening guidance

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Department of Health released updated guidance for operating schools during the coronavirus pandemic that more closely aligns the state with federal guidelines.

The recommendations released Monday also more closely match new tiered reopening plans at the county level.

The guidance includes thresholds for when public and private schools can shift from distance learning to in-person instruction, or a mix of both, based on average rates of new daily virus cases over two weeks and the positive test rate on each island.

The most recent data indicate Oahu and the Big Island could operate “blended learning” systems that combine in-person and online instruction, while rates on other islands were low enough to allow full in-person instruction.

Health officials stressed the importance of each school’s preparation to ensure physical distancing, mask wearing, good cleaning practices and reducing contact by dividing students and staff into groups.

“The core considerations for schools — the measures schools must take to prevent spread of disease — have not changed and remain the most important part of any school’s preparations to open for in-­person learning and their response to COVID-19,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, acting state epidemiologist.

Any shifts in guidance would be based on trends throughout the state and what happens at individual schools, she said.

“The ability to track the measures in real time allows schools to look ahead and plan more actively for learning model changes, but the idea is to base an actual change in learning model on at least two weeks of data,” Kemble said.

Honolulu police issue 4,500 warnings for virus violations

HONOLULU — Honolulu police issued warnings or citations to thousands of people in violation of coronavirus protocols since the state launched a pre-arrival testing program to reopen to tourists.

The Honolulu Police Department said officers issued 4,500 warnings and 470 citations for not wearing masks or failing to social distance since the launch of the traveler testing program Thursday.

Police said they do not separate visitors and residents on their list of citations and warnings.

Officers also arrested several people for violations of emergency orders issued by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

About 8,000 people landed in Hawaii Thursday, the first day of the statewide program enabling travelers to visit without quarantining for two weeks if they could produce a negative coronavirus test.

The tourism industry is not doing enough to inform those arriving from outside the state about safety regulations related to the pandemic, Caldwell said.

“I’m a little discouraged by the fact that our partners in the visitor industry have not started to educate visitors,” Caldwell said. “The local folks are abiding. If they see visitors not abiding, it’s going to create resentment between local and visitors.”

Honolulu City Councilman Tommy Waters suggested the tourism industry should provide a video to be played during flights or guides outlining the regulations to be distributed as passengers disembark.

Supporters of reopening said tourists pose less risk than large gatherings of residents.

Mufi Hannemann, CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, said hotels have implemented an extensive education program for guests about the restrictions. But he said they cannot enforce behavior once visitors leave the properties.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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