Partial Road Closure in HVNP

Hawaiian Electric will soon start a six-month project to upgrade transmission poles and equipment in the area of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (HVNP).

Work will be done in phases starting April 1, 2020. Crews will replace 189 utility poles and install new equipment along Hawaii Belt Road, or Highway 11, between mile markers 30 and 40. One lane will be closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

“During this challenging time, we know the community is counting on us to keep the lights on. Continuing to provide safe and reliable power is our priority,” said Kristen Okinaka, spokeswoman for Hawaiian Electric’s operations on Hawaii Island. “Our crews and contractors will practice social distancing on the job and there should be no interaction with the public. It’s part of the critical work that continues, especially in advance of hurricane season, including tree trimming, replacement of equipment, and system resilience work that is difficult to reschedule.”

Once the line construction is completed, the replaced poles will be removed via helicopter. Work is expected to be done by Sept. 30, 2020, weather permitting.

For questions or concerns, please call 969-6666

Hawaiian Electric to Estimate Energy Usage

Hawaiian Electric continues to adjust its operations to reduce the potential spread of coronavirus, including postponing less urgent repair and maintenance work, and closing walk-in customer payment centers at least through April.

None of the operational changes being made will interrupt electric service to customers.

To ensure electric service is not disrupted, Hawaiian Electric is postponing projects and work that would require customer outages, unless it is deemed critical for safety or reliability. Our crews and contractors will continue to perform essential work that involves little interaction with the public, including tree trimming (to reduce potential outages), replacement of equipment, and system resilience work that is difficult to reschedule.

Emergency work, including outage restoration and repairs to ensure public safety such as replacing damaged poles, remains a priority.

Although Hawaiian Electric employees are considered “essential workers,” the company is trying to reduce the numbers in the field to protect the health and safety of employees and the public. Here are some other measures being taken:

  • Until further notice, the company is reducing the number of meter readers sent out across its five-island service territory.

    Bills for residential and some small- to medium-size commercial customers will be estimated based on the previous month’s usage. Meter readers will continue to read meters for large commercial customers.

    Once meter reading resumes, the bills will “true up” and customers will be billed accordingly for the actual usage. Customers will pay for only the electricity used.
  • Service disconnections are suspended through May 17, an extension from April 17. If you receive a notice from Hawaiian Electric before May 17 that threatens to disconnect service, it’s a scam and should be ignored.

    Customers facing financial hardship are urged to contact Customer Service so payment options and schedules can be arranged to help keep payments manageable. While customers will still be responsible for paying their electric bills, payment schedules and other options can help ease the financial challenges for those most affected by the COVID-19 situation.

    The quickest way to start the process is to fill out and submit a Payment Arrangement Request Form at https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/customerserviceoptions.
  • Walk-in customer payment centers will remain closed at least through April 30 rather than reopen on March 30 as originally planned.

Hawaiian Electric encourages customers who are having difficulty paying their bills due to the coronavirus pandemic to contact customer service representatives.

To make payment arrangements or for more information, visit the online customer care center at www.hawaiianelectric.com or call:

Call for Proposals: 2020 Urban & Community Forestry Grants

Kaulunani Urban And Community Forestry Program opens call for their small Grants Program supporting up to $40,000 for urban and community forestry projects.

Explore online map of Hawaii’s Urban Trees: https://pg-cloud.com/hawaii/

Could funding from a community grant help your tree project get off the ground?

Whether you are planning a tree planting project, hosting a workshop or training, coordinating a restoration event, or creating outreach materials – there is support available! The DLNR’s Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program announces a call for grant applications that support urban and community forestry projects statewide.

The Kaulunani Grant Program has awarded hundreds of grants to nonprofit organizations, schools, community groups, parks, museums, and arboretums across the state of Hawai‘i for a diverse range of urban and community forestry projects. Over the years, Kaulunani grant recipients have impacted nearly every urban area in Hawai‘i. This state and federally funded grant program has enabled the planting of countless trees, raised awareness of the importance of trees in dozens of communities, and has involved thousands of Hawai‘i residents in caring for the ‘āina.

The Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program’s Grant Program offers several different levels of grants under which organizations and communities can apply:

● “Cool Your School” Grants: School grant requests between $500 and $3,000.

● ‘ILIMA Grants: Requests under $2,500.

● MĀMAKI Grants: Requests between $2,500 and $14,999.

● ‘ULU Grants: Grant Requests OVER $15,000, targeting specific special funding opportunities. ‘Ulu grants consider requests up to $300,000. The complete list of grant opportunities is available on the Kaulunani website. Requires pre-approval.

Applications are accepted on a quarterly basis with the following deadlines for 2020: May 1, August 1, and November 1. Applications received by May 1st will receive priority consideration for current year funds. The Kaulunani Advisory Council reviews proposals at the subsequent quarterly meeting following each deadline. Grants are made to projects that match or exceed the federal grant funds in cash and in-kind contributions. One grant request per applicant will be considered. Grants are awarded to projects that respond to a need identified in DLNR’s Forest Action Plan, Urban Forestry Chapter, which can be found on Kaulunani’s website: www.Kaulunani.org.

Upcoming informational webinar: Do you have an idea for a project? Join us during our upcoming webinar to learn how to enhance your proposal. We will teach you how to write a successful application and we will help fine tune your project to fit with the Kaulunani grant requirements. This informational session is a great opportunity to ask questions and get feedback for your ideas. Our staff are available to actively work with you through the application process.

Grant Information Webinar – Date: Friday, April 3rd, 12:00-1:15 pm

Zoom Meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/416522240?pwd=eUIwME02TEJaZ0cwZDRubGoxTDdidz09

Meeting ID: 416 522 240 RSVP by April 3rd at 10 am to Jolie Dollar at jdollar@smarttreespacific.org to receive Zoom Meeting password.

For more information about the Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program, please contact Heather McMillen, DOFAW Urban & Community Forester, at heather.l.mcmillen@hawaii.gov.

Hawaii Island Humane Society’s Shelters Close

Hawaii Island Humane Society’s top priority is keeping people safe while continuing to provide the utmost care for shelter animals during this COVID-19 crisis. There is no evidence that companion animals have been infected or could spread the coronavirus (COVID-19) according to the World Health Organization.

COVID-19 Action Plan Update

Beginning on Wednesday, March 25, Hawaii Island Humane Society’s three shelters in Keaau, Waimea and Kona will close to the public and volunteers. Hawaii Island Humane Society (HIHS) shelter staff will continue to ensure that pets are fed and kennels are clean. 

HIHS will provide the following essential services during this time:          

• Intakes: If you find a lost or stray animal, please call one of the Hawaii Island Humane Society shelters to schedule an appointment to bring the pet in. While the shelters will remain open for intakes, please be prepared to wait as staff is reducing public interactions. 

• Animal Control: Animal control officers will continue to answer high priority and emergency calls. Those calls include injured or sick stray animals, cruelty and neglect complaints, bite complaints, and dangerous and aggressive dog complaints. Officers will respond to other calls as time and safety allow. HIHS’s capacity to respond to calls may be diminished during this time. 

• Lost Pets: Call to make an appointment at your nearest shelter. You will need to file a lost pet report and provide proof of ownership (photo, veterinary records). 

• Owner Surrendered Pets: Pet owners who are not facing an immediate crisis are encouraged to hold their pets for up to four weeks and surrender at a later day. Pet owners who need to immediately surrender pets can do so by appointment only. 

• Owner Requested Euthanasia: Owners requesting euthanasia services are encouraged to contact and schedule an appointment with the shelter in your area. 

• Adoptions and Fostering Programs: Adoptions and fostering are on hold at this time while we develop a plan to promote positive outcomes for our animals. Please check hihs.org or follow us on social media for updates.

All dog parks are closed.

Hawaii Island Humane Society will not be issuing spay and neuter coupons this month. Community spay and neuter programs including the Angel Day 2020 Spay & Neuter for Pit Bull Mixes at the Keaau Shelter slated for April 1 and 2 is also cancelled. All programs including microchipping, humane education classes, group visits, events, field trips for shelter dogs and new volunteer introductions are postponed until further notice. 

Dog license renewals by mail only. Renewal cards and payment should be made to Hawaii Island Humane Society, 78-6767 Mamalahoa Highway, Holualoa, HI 96725. Checks should be made payable to the Hawaii Island Humane Society. 

Please do not come to the shelters unless you require one of our essential services. The individual shelters can be contacted for appointments by calling the Keaau Shelter 808-966-5458, Kona Shelter 808-329-1175 and Waimea Shelter 808-885-4558. 

Follow us on social media or check out hihs.org for more information. 

Information on Statewide Stay-at-Home Order

Effective March 25, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. through April 30, 2020, everyone in the State of Hawai‘i is required to stay at home or in their place of residence. This supplement to Governor David Ige’s emergency proclamation was announced on March 23, 2020.  Read the supplemental proclamation here

Under the proclamation, individuals may leave their home or place of residence only for essential activities, to engage in essential businesses and operations, and only if their work cannot be conducted through remote technology from home. 

Permitted Activities Outside the Home or Place of Residence

Under the order, the following activities are permitted outside the home: 

  • Travel for health and safety.
  • Travel to engage in, receive or obtain goods or services from the essential businesses or operations identified in the order.
  • Travel to engage in minimum basic operations of non-essential businesses, as well as the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences.
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities or other high risk persons
  • Travel from a person’s home or place of residence to the nearest airport or other facility for departure from the State.
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order, including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement.
  • Outdoor exercise activities so long as social distancing requirements are maintained.
  • Walking pets on a leash.

Read the full details here.

Prohibited Activities Outside the Home or Place of Residence

  • Pursuant to current guidance from the CDC, any gathering of more than 10 people is prohibited unless exempted by this Third Supplementary Proclamation.
  • All other places of public gathering will be closed to the public.

Read the full details here.

Essential businesses defined in the proclamation include: 

  • All businesses or operations identified as federal critical infrastructure sectors or designated by the Director of HIEMA.
  • Healthcare services and facilities.
  • Stores that sell groceries and medicine.
  • Food, beverage, cannabis production and agriculture.
  • Educational institutions.
  • Organizations that provide charitable and social services.
  • Media.
  • Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation.
  • Financial institutions.
  • Hardware and supply stores.
  • Critical trades, including building and construction.
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services.
  • Laundry services.
  • Restaurants for consumption off-premises.
  • Supplies to work from home.
  • Transportation.
  • Home-based care and services. 
  • Residential facilities and shelters. 
  • Professional services. 
  • Child care services for employees exempted by this Order. 
  • Manufacture, distribution and supply chain for critical products and industries. 
  • Critical labor union functions.
  • Hotels and motels.
  • Funeral services.
  • Government functions.  

Read the full details here.

Social Distancing Requirements

All essential businesses and operations identified herein and persons engaged in permitted activities identified herein, shall exercise the following social distancing requirements to the fullest extent possible:

  • Six-foot distances between individuals
  • Hand sanitizer and sanitizing products
  • Separate operating hours for high risk populations
  • Online and remote access

Read the full details here.

Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Persons experiencing homelessness are exempt from section I of the proclamation but must comply with the social distancing requirements to the fullest extent possible and are strongly urged to obtain shelter.

Read the full details here.

Criminal Penalties

Any person who intentionally or knowingly violates the order, if convicted, can be fined up to $5,000, or imprisoned up to one year, or both.

Read the full details here.


FHB Reducing Number of Banking Locations

First Hawaiian Bank sent the following e-mail to it’s customers on Wednesday, March 25, 2020:

We recognize that you, our customers, are counting on us for the financial support and stability that is such an important part of managing the impacts of COVID-19. As we closely monitor this pandemic, we are taking the necessary steps to help protect the safety and well-being of our customers and employees. 

In support of the “stay-at-home, work-from-home” measures implemented by the State of Hawaii, and to reduce the person-to-person contact between our customers and employees:

On March 26, 2020 we will be reducing the number of locations that offer full-service banking and regular business hours.

Through this transition, ATMs, access to safe deposit boxes and night depository services will continue to be available at all of our branch locations in Hawaii, Guam and Saipan. 

In conjunction with this change, at our full-service branch locations, we will be reserving the first hour of service to assist seniors and those who are at the highest risk.

This decision was made so we could protect the health and well-being of our customers and employees while providing a safe environment to serve your financial needs.

We also continue to encourage all customers to take advantage of FHB Online and FHB Mobile Banking* to access your account from the safety and convenience of your home. Learn how at www.fhb.com/digital.

We are committed to assisting you as we navigate the hardships caused by this pandemic. Please check our website regularly for updates and a list of full-service branches that are ready to serve you at www.fhb.com/covid19.

3 Pacific Fleet Sailors Test Positive for COVID-19

PEARL HARBOR – A Sailor assigned to a San Diego, California-based squadron, a Sailor assigned to an Everett, Washington-based ship, and a Sailor assigned to a Pearl Harbor, Hawaii-based shore command tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). 

All three Sailors are currently isolated at their residences, restricted in movement, and receiving appropriate supportive care in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines. 

Personnel who were immediately identified as having close contact with these Sailors have been notified, placed in a restriction of movement status at their residences and are being monitored.

U.S. Pacific Fleet commanders and commanding officers are committed to taking every measure possible to protect the health of our force. We remain in close coordination with state and federal authorities, and public health authorities to ensure the well-being of our personnel and local population.

For questions, contact U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs at 808-471-3769.

First COVID-19 Related Death in Hawaii

The Department of Health reports the person passed away on March 20, 2020 and suffered from multiple underlying health conditions. The available history for this person suggests they had a potential indirect travel-related exposure.

The person had been tested at a clinical commercial laboratory, and the results were indeterminate. Follow-up testing today, by the State Laboratories Division, confirmed COVID-19.

All of Hawai‘i expresses condolences to the family of the person who died and shares in grieving their loss. Everyone is encouraged to take care of themselves and their loved ones during these difficult times.

All Commercial Ocean & Trail Tours and State Parks Closed

With yesterday’s announcement that community spread of COVID-19 is likely happening in Hawai‘i, the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) has suspended all commercial operator permits until further notice. The suspension is consistent with Governor Ige’s supplemental emergency proclamation, Hawai‘i Dept. of Health (DOH) and Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. This covers hundreds of tour operators, surf and SUP schools, sight-seeing, whale-watching and dinner cruises and any commercial operation operating in state ocean waters.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “Many people are not practicing the recommended social distancing protocols, so it’s become necessary for us to take these extraordinary steps to help encourage the six-foot separation between people recommended by Gov. Ige, the CDC and our experts at the DOH. It is hoped that every commercial permit holder and all local residents and visitors will abide by these closures in the spirit of flattening the spread of the corona virus.”

Many state parks were closed five days ago, but the DLNR Division of State Parks announced that it is shuttering all parks, statewide. “Unfortunately,” Curt Cottrell, State Parks Administrator said, “many, many people are simply ignoring gates and signs and choosing to put themselves and any others close-by at risk of contracting COVID-19. This unprecedented step is being taken in the interest of public health and safety and we really encourage people to find alternate activities that do not expose themselves and others to the virus.”

The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) has closed all commercial tours on State trails and wildlife sanctuaries. Any vendors with tours already booked will be refunded.

The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) is receiving reports of people continuing to enter Diamond Head State Monument and other closed parks. This is not only dangerous in places like the outer slopes and crater rim of Diamond Head, but violators are subject to being cited or arrested.

Case said, “We are all in this together.  It is an enormous inconvenience and upsetting to the kind of lifestyle we enjoy in Hawai‘i. The faster we stop the spread of COVID-19 by everyone practicing social distancing, the quicker we’re likely to see our lives return to normal.”

Hawaiʻi Island Delegation Letter to Mayor Kim

A Hawaii Island delegation of elected officials have sent the following letter to Hawaii Mayor Kim requesting immediate action in response to the public health concerns regarding the Corona virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on Friday, March 20, 2020:

Dear Mayor Kim,

To protect the residents of the County of Hawaiʻi and the long-term stability of our island economy, we implore you to immediately order the shut-down of non-essential county government operations and the sheltering-in-place of all people throughout the County of Hawai‘i.

As Mayor of the County of Hawai’i, we strongly urge you to take the following immediate actions through an Emergency Proclamation and Emergency Rule(s):

  • Institute an immediate countywide shut down for the next fifteen (15) days.
  • Order all people in the County of Hawai‘i to shelter-in-place for the next 15 days and coordinate with the Joint Incident Center under the command of the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency Director/Adjutant General Kenneth Hara to immediately use his authority under the March 16, 2020, Emergency Supplementary Proclamation by Governor Ige to take all necessary steps and required means to ensure that the supply chain for basic necessities — such as food, medicine, water, communications, gasoline, cargo and public safety throughout the County of Hawaiʻi — is secure.
  • Request Director/Adjutant General Hara to secure and requisition any needed hospital and medical supplies that are necessary to assist with the coming need to treat individuals due to COVID-19, at all available Hawaiʻi Island medical facilities.
  • In coordination with Governor Ige, order the quarantine of all travelers arriving from outside Hawaiʻi at the Hilo and Kona International Airports for a minimum of 15 days.
  • Prohibit all non-essential inter-island and out-of-state travel from Hawaiʻi Island.
  • In coordination with Governor Ige, require the immediate closure of all public and private schools, daycare centers, preschools, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, Hawaiʻi Community College and Hawaiʻi Community College Pālamanui.
  • Require the immediate closure of all County facilities and workspaces, and send home all non-essential County of Hawaiʻi personnel for the duration of the shut down.
  • Limit County of Hawai‘i work to only essential personnel, provided they are equipped with the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and adhere to spatial distancing guidelines and preventive measures as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Hawaiʻi Department of Health.

As Mayor, you are the only person who has the direct authority to institute these actions. As state legislators, we passed and continue to support the delegated authority provided to the counties under Hawai`i Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapter 127, which grants you, as Mayor, the power to act in emergency situations such as the unprecedented one we face today. The entire Hawaiʻi Island delegation is speaking with one collective voice, and we implore you to take immediate action for the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the County of Hawai‘i.

Sincerely,

Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele, Senator Russell E. Ruderman, Senator Dru Mamo Kanuha, and Senator Lorraine R. Inouye

Representative Mark M. Nakashima, Representative Chris Todd, Representative Richard H.K. Onishi. Representative Joy A. San Buenaventura, Representative Richard P. Creagan, Representative Nicole E. Lowen, and Representative David A. Tarnas

HVNP Modifying Operations

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park remains open, but is modifying operations to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing. 


Temporary closures until further notice include: 

  • All events and guided programs, including hikes, walks and talks, are canceled. 
  • Kīlauea Visitor Center and the outdoor lānai are closed, but restrooms are open. 
  • The Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association store is closed; online shopping is open. 
  • Mauna Loa Summit Cabin and Red Hill Cabin are closed. 
  • Volcano House hotel, restaurants and the Nāmakanipaio Campground are closed. 
  • Kilauea Military Camp is open with reduced services for authorized patrons. Check website for details. 
  • Volcano Art Center Gallery is closed. 

What’s open: 

  • All previously open trails and overlooks are open for healthy outdoor recreational opportunities.
  • The Kahuku Unit is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Most of the backcountry is open for hiking and camping. Backcountry permits are being processed by phone, 808-985-6178. Retrieve the permit in person through a slot in the backcountry office door. 

Commercial tours are limited to 10 people or less and guides must enforce social distancing procedures. All entrance fees, including commercial tour fees, are temporarily suspended until further notice. 
Visit the park website for the latest information, www.nps.gov/hawaiivolcanoes

Although a community talk-story event scheduled for Thursday, March 19 to discuss potential future uses of Kīlauea volcano’s Great Crack area was postponed, the public is encouraged to submit comments via email to havo_planning@nps.gov, or in writing to Superintendent, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718. 

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website and social media channels.  

The NPS urges visitors to do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.  

For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.  

Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus

Senator Nishihara Tests Positive for COVID-19

Hawai‘i State Senator Clarence K. Nishihara was informed today that he has tested positive for COVID-19, and he informed his colleagues and staff.

State Sen. Clarence K. Nishihara

This is the first known case of COVID-19 at the Hawaii State Capitol building.

Senate President Ron Kouchi sent a memo to all staff informing them of the positive test result.

The memo recommends all Senate offices close until further notice. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Senator Nishihara is a Democrat in his fourth term who represents Waipahu, Crestview, Manana, Pearl City, and Pacific Palisades on the island of O‘ahu.

Hawaiian Electric Suspends Disconnections

Hawaiian Electric will suspend service disconnections for 30 days so customers who are financially challenged by the coronavirus pandemic don’t have to worry about losing electric service.

Service disconnections of both residential and commercial customers will be suspended through at least April 17. Depending on the situation at that time, the special assistance period may be extended.

Customers facing financial hardship are urged to call Customer Service so payment options and schedules can be arranged to help keep payments manageable. While customers will still be responsible for paying their electric bills, payment schedules and other options can help ease the financial challenges for those most affected by the COVID-19 situation.

“With everything that’s going on, and with the impacts to the Hawaii economy just starting to be known, we don’t want people who are struggling financially to worry about having this essential service interrupted,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of customer service. “We’re providing this special assistance by setting up payment plans and making other arrangements for customers who let us know about their situation.”

To make payment arrangements or for more information, visit our online customer care center at www.hawaiianelectric.com or contact our representatives at the following numbers:

2020 Census Field Operations Suspended

Less than one week ago, the 2020 Census fully kicked off, and invitations continue to arrive in mailboxes across the nation.  As of this morning, more than eleven million households have responded. America is stepping up to shape our future and ensure families and communities are counted.

Beginning today, in support of guidance on what we can all do to help slow the spread of coronavirus, 2020 Census field operations will be suspended for two weeks until April 1, 2020. The Census Bureau is taking this step to help protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone going through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions.

During this pause in field operations, the Census Bureau will continue to evaluate all 2020 Census operations. Should any additional adjustments need to be made, the Census Bureau will communicate these changes broadly and promptly. 

In late May, census takers around the nation will begin visiting households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census to help complete the count. As we continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, we will adjust census taker and survey operations as necessary in order to follow the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities.

The public is strongly encouraged to respond to the 2020 Census online using a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and can also respond by phone or mail. Everyone should respond to the 2020 Census as soon as they receive their invitation — and when they’re finished, they can make sure their friends, families and social networks know about the importance of responding.  

It has never been easier to respond to the census, and the 2020 Census will count everyone accurately. We recognize that many people plan to access the 2020 Census through other response modes, such as phone or paper, which is why the 2020 Census has such a nimble design. 

On March 15, 2020, the Census Bureau announced several adaptations to our group quarters operations to accommodate recent scheduling changes on college campuses as leadership takes action to keep students and faculty safe.

For all other Census Bureau household and economic surveys separate from the 2020 Decennial Census, Bureau personnel will begin using phone calls instead of in-person visits. In the limited number of instances where an in-person visit is necessary, we are working closely with public health authorities to ensure each visit is accomplished safely.

Once again, we encourage everyone to respond online today at 2020Census.gov.  With the flexibility and support of the American people, we will achieve a complete and accurate count which helps guide funding decisions for things like hospitals, roads and emergency services. Respondents can also respond by calling the number provided in their invitation or by mail once they have received a paper form.  

~ U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham

Gov. Ige Announces State Actions to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Gov. David Y. Ige announced today state actions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The actions I’m announcing today may seem extreme to some of you, and we know that it will have negative effects to our economy. But we are confident that taking aggressive actions now will allow us to have a quicker recovery when this crisis is over,” said Gov. Ige.

Gov. Ige strongly encouraged our visitors to postpone their vacations for at least the next 30-days and reschedule for a later date.

3/17/2020

Effective this Friday (March 20), screening of all passengers disembarking cruise ships will be screened. Our airports are working on implementation plans for screening arriving visitors.

Gov. Ige is directing the following:

  • Limit social gatherings to groups of 10 people or less to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
  • Close bars and clubs.
  • Close restaurants or provide drive-thru, take out, pick-up, or delivery.
  • Close theatres, entertainment centers and visitor attractions.
  • Avoid any discretionary travel.
  • Suspend services and activities in places of worship.
  • Stay home if you are a high-risk individual and take additional precautionary measures.
  • Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities.
  • If someone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19, keep the entire household at home.

Stability is also critical in this unprecedented situation.  Accordingly, the following steps have been taken:

  • All utilities have been directed to take necessary measures to ensure that they can continue to operate in the normal course.
  • Dir. Kenneth S. Hara, Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency, has the full authority to determine what constitutes critical infrastructure or essential services that will continue operations. This includes utilities, fuel producers, shipping facilities and industry, financial institutions, financial services, telecommunications companies, wholesaler or distributors, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other industry vital to our community.
  • For both the utilities and essential services, government resources and support can be deployed as necessary.
  • The one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits is waived for those unemployed because of COVID-19.
  • The Office of Consumer Protection is working with its Landlord Tenant Center, and effective already are emergency provisions applicable to tenants.
  • During the emergency, the following additional steps are being discussed with our community’s business partners and non-profit organizations to maintain stability for our families by:
    • Ensuring employees have benefits, even if employees are not at work.
    • Halting eviction for non-payment of rent.
    • Halting foreclosures.
    • Working with public and private utility providers to avoid shut-off of service to critical utilities such as electric, gas, water, internet, landline telephone and cell phone.

Gov. Ige has also directed all department and agency heads to review their employees and identify the following:

  1. Essential-functions (will be required to report to work)
  2. Non-essential – able to work remotely via telework (work from home)
  3. Non-essential – unable to work remotely via telework or otherwise
    1. These employees could be re-assigned to work that could be done remotely, as long as it’s in the employee’s job description and classification

For the next 15 calendar days, Gov. Ige is directing the departments to have all non-essential staff stay home. Essential workers will continue to report to work. All employees will continue to be paid and will still be eligible for sick leave, vacation and other benefits. Every employee should look to their respective department for detailed instructions.

Gov. Ige has also banned all non-essential travel for state workers, including to the Neighbor Islands.

In addition, the state is taking the following actions:

  • Temporarily closing State Libraries to public access to evaluate and adjust operations to maintain social distancing. There will be no fees for late returns and the Library online resources will still be available.
  • The Dept. of Land and Natural Resources is closing parks, offices with in-person access and large.
  • All events at the State Capitol, State Art Museum, and tours at Washington Place are suspended.
  • The Dept. of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has suspended all combat sports in Hawaii.
  • Cancelled events at Aloha Stadium and Hawaiʻi Convention Center for the next 30 days.

“It is essential that our government operations and services continue during this time, but we must keep all of our employees and community safe and healthy.  We expect more stringent actions in the days to come. These are difficult times, but Hawaiʻi has a history of coming together when faced with challenges. I’m confident that together we will rise to the task,” said Gov. Ige.

Hawaii DOH COVID-19 Daily Update

March 17, 2020:

There is a current shortage of hand sanitizers and toilet paper in Hawai‘i in part because of the public’s over-reaction to COVID-19. The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) wants to avoid having the same shortage of COVID-19 test resources by making sure the public understands how to properly utilize the newly established screening sites.

Test kit

If people who are well or experiencing mild flu-like symptoms go to the screening sites, there potentially may be insufficient testing supplies for those who critically need the tests, including older adults and those with existing health conditions.

The public should heed the following steps:

  • First, contact your healthcare provider in advance to determine if you need to have an in-person visit with your provider.
  • Your provider will determine over the phone whether you meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing.
  • If your provider directs you to come in for a screening, bring a photo ID and insurance card.
  • Your provider will take a swab for testing.
  • The specimen will be sent to a private or state lab for the results. During this time, you are expected to self-quarantine at home until the test results are available, which could be up to 3 to 4 days.
  • If you are healthy or experiencing mild to moderate flu-like symptoms, DOH urges you to stay at home and avoid an unnecessary visit to a screening site. The screening sites are only for those who are severely ill with COVID-19 symptoms.

Postpone or Cancel In-Person Events

The Hawai‘i Department of Health recommends postponing or canceling in-person events involving 50 or more people for the next eight weeks. Consider using technology to hold virtual meetings or other means when feasible. It is important to note these are recommendations to encourage best practices for social distancing; not mandates. Businesses and organizations have the option to hold group events and meetings at their own discretion, keeping in mind that attendees should be two-arms-length or six feet apart when possible. Seniors and those with underlying health conditions who are at a greater risk for COVID-19 or respiratory illnesses should avoid attending public gatherings altogether.

Cruise Ship Being Rerouted

The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) Harbors Division and the U.S. Coast Guard are continuing coordination with Holland America Line’s Maasdam cruise ship, which is on its way to Hawai‘i. Initially, the Maasdam had a port call for Hilo, however that reservation has been canceled. HDOT is currently working to direct the ship to Honolulu Harbor so that disembarking passengers will have various flight options for departure out of Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL). To date, there have been no positive cases of COVID-19 associated with the ship. It is important to note that the Maasdam will have been at sea longer than the 14-day incubation period prior to arriving in the Hawaiian Islands. Prior to port, all ships are required to call in advance with information on any symptomatic passengers. If there are concerns about passengers who are ill, the ship will be held out

of port.

2-1-1 Call Center for Information on COVID-19

The Aloha United Way call center is open daily between 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.

For information or questions about COVID-19:

Four New Cases of COVID-19 Identified on O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island

As of 2:00 p.m. on March 17, 2020 there is a total of 14 confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Hawai‘i. Four new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were identified: Two on O‘ahu, one on Hawai‘i Island and one on Maui. DOH is gathering more information on these cases.

COVID-19 Summary of Numbers as of March 17, 2020 at 2:00 pm (updated as new information becomes available)

Number of Confirmed or Presumptive Positive Case(s)* 14

Number of Persons Under Investigation (current, testing pending) 12

Number of Negative Test Results 93

Number of Person Self-Monitoring with DOH supervision 9

The 9 individuals who are self-monitoring with public health supervision are all on O‘ahu. These numbers fluctuate often as travelers arrive, depart, or begin and end their self-monitoring with supervision by DOH.

Confirmed: Meets CDC criteria and positive test result received from a certified laboratory such as the DOH State Laboratories Division.

*The CDC has advised states that respiratory samples positive for SARS-CoV2 in a state and public-health laboratory will be considered “positive” with no need for further testing.

Presumptive Positive: Positive test results from a private laboratory requiring confirmation by a state public health laboratory.

Persons Under Investigation (PUI): Meets CDC criteria for investigation and testing pending.

Monitoring: Individuals voluntarily remain at home and refrain from work, school, gathering places, and public transit. They communicate daily with Department of Health staff.

Rep. Gabbard, Lt. Gov. Green to Host Telephone Town Hall On Coronavirus

Honolulu, HI—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Lt. Gov. Josh Green will be hosting a live telephone town hall tomorrow to talk about the local and national response to the coronavirus.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Lt. Gov. Josh Green will provide updates from their respective areas of responsibility, share their thoughts on the local and national response to the coronavirus pandemic, and take questions live from callers. Lt. Gov. Green has lead the state’s response to coronavirus since the early days of the outbreak.

“Connecting the people of Hawaiʻi to the information they need is one of the most important jobs of government. Lt. Gov. Green and I look forward to speaking directly with residents, hearing their questions, and sharing the latest information we have,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

To participate in this telephone town hall, call toll-free (888) 476-4187 at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 18.

State Announces Scheduling of Appointments for Unemployment Claims

The Hawai‘i State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations (DLIR) today announced a shift in services in Honolulu to provide individualized claims servicing while limiting the public’s exposure to large gatherings.

The unemployment offices in Hilo, Kealakekua, Wailuku, and Lihue will follow suit beginning tomorrow. Unemployment benefits service will switch to an appointment only service for those not using the online system.

“We’re taking this step to help prevent the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and ensure the safety of staff and the communities served,” said DLIR Director Scott Murakami. “The safest, and most efficient way to apply for unemployment benefits is through our online system at uiclaims.hawaii.gov. We’re requesting the community’s support on this as we’re focusing on processing claims as soon as possible and getting benefits out to the community.”

Individuals seeking services may still receive assistance by appointment only. Appointments can be made by contacting your local office by phone. Contact information can be found online at http://labor.hawaii.gov/ui/contact/. The unemployment offices will maintain normal business hours and will stay available to the public and those seeking services.

Information for filing benefits claims online is available at http://labor.hawaii.gov/blog/news/4773/.

Equal Opportunity Employer/Program
Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.
TDD/TTY Dial 711 then ask for (808) 586-8866

Hawaiian Electric Closing Payment Centers

Hawaiian Electric is taking steps to ensure that we will continue to provide safe and reliable service if the public health responses to COVID‑19 are elevated.

Because we want to minimize risk to customers who visit our offices and to our employees, Hawaiian Electric will temporarily close our payment centers starting at noon Wednesday, March 18. We will reassess the situation next week to determine if it is in the public interest to reopen our centers on Monday, March 30.

This temporary measure is needed to increase social distancing as recommended by state and federal health officials. However, customers still have numerous options to make payments.

Customers are encouraged to:

  • Mail in payment.
  • Use or sign up for online bill payment.
  • Use Speedpay®, an authorized payment service provider that allows you to pay by phone or online (convenience fee will apply).
  • Visit Western Union payment locations throughout our five‑island service territory if payment must be made in person.

For more information, visit our Payment Centers page.

Hawaiian Electric understands that, depending on how long it lasts, the COVID‑19 situation may cause financial hardship for customers. Those customers are urged to call representatives at the numbers listed below to discuss options available to keep their accounts current:

We want you to know that Hawaiian Electric employees are on the job, and our top priority is providing safe and reliable electricity to you. Please stay safe.

COVID-19 Leads to Parks and Facilities Closures

(Honolulu) – Out of an abundance of caution and to facilitate social distancing recommendations, DLNR and its divisions are announcing the following closures to help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding during this time of major inconvenience. We intend to reopen parks and facilities as soon as the novel coronavirus is no longer a threat. These steps are being taken to protect all visitors and constituents, as well as our staff, while maintaining a high level of service.”

Closures are listed alphabetically by division or office and will be updated as necessary:

Bureau of Conveyances (BOC) – (808) 587-0147

  • The public reference room #123 in the Kalanimoku State Office Building will be closed starting Wed, 3/18/20 until further notice.  Most, but not all, research normally done in this facility can be accomplished online: https://boc.ehawaii.gov/docsearch/search.html
  • The BOC recording office room #120 in the Kalanimoku State Office Building is continuing to conduct document recording.  Electronic or mail-in recordings are strongly recommended: https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/boc/e-recording/or Bureau of Conveyances, P.O. Box 2867, Honolulu, HI  96803.

Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM) – (808) 587-0214

  • The CWRM office, room 227, in the Kalanimoku State Office Building is closed to in-person access.
  • All permit applications accepted by mail or electronic transmission: dlnr.cwrm@hawaii.gov
  • CWRM is not currently accepting hand-delivered applications.

Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) – (808) 587-0100

  • All DAR offices across the state are closed to in-person access. People can apply for licenses, permits and registrations on the DAR website or by calling (808) 587-0100.

Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) – (808) 587-1966 https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/

  • All DOBOR District and Harbor offices are closed to in-person access.
  • All public restrooms facilities within harbors are closed.
  • All existing and new Marine Event Permits involving more than 50 people are being cancelled.
  • Payments for slips, revocable permits & leases, vessel registrations & transfers should be submitted online or via mail: vessel.ehawaii.gov or DOBOR, 4 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu, HI  96819

Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) – (808) 587-0066

  • All DOCARE offices statewide closed to in-person access. Anyone needing in-person services such as evidence releases or report copies should call DOCARE to make arrangements.
  • All in-person State Hunter Education classes are suspended. On-line courses continue, but in-person testing requirements are suspended. Replacement hunter education cards can be processed online. Hunter Education offices in Honolulu and Waimea are closed to in-person access.
  • DOCARE officers will be patrolling all closed facilities and enforcing these closures.  Anyone caught in a closed area is subject to law enforcement actions including the possibility of citations and/or arrest.
  • Please report suspected resource violations to 643-DLNR (3567) or via the free DLNRTip app.

Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) – (808) 587-016

  • DOFAW announces a 30-day pause for deer hunting season in the Lānaʻi Game Management Area. Permits and reservations for deer hunts for March 21st, 22nd,28th, 29th and April 4th, 5th, 11th & 12th have been cancelled.  Efforts are underway to notify hunters impacted by this cancellation.
  • Hawai ‘i island’s hunting tag requirements will be waived for the Spring Turkey and the Puuanhulu Archery season.
  • At this time, there are no additional closures of State Forest Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries, other Game Management Areas, Natural Area Reserves, or trails in the Nā Ala Hele Trails & Access Program. (Please note: Mānoa Falls and ‘Aihualama trails are currently closed due to unsafe and slippery conditions).
  • No new permits for Hawai‘i Island’s Waimanu campsites, Keanakolu cabins and Ainapo cabin will be issued. All existing permits are suspended and full refunds will be issued.
  • There are no restrictions on otherwise permitted activities, including public access, hunting and recreation.
  • All DOFAW offices statewide are closed to in-person access.
  • Hunting licenses are available at: https://hunting.ehawaii.gov
  • Camping permits are available at: https://camping.ehawaii.gov
  • Collection permits are available upon request at: dlnr.fw.oahubranch@hawaii.gov
  • Hiking permits for Lulumahu and Kuaokala trails are available at: https://trails.ehawaii.gov/camping/all,e-search.html#.
  • Poamoho hiking permits are available at: https://hawaiitrails.hawaii.gov/trails/#/trail/poamoho-trail–poamoho-hele-loa-access-on-line-permit/175

DLNR Main Office (Chair’s Office) – (808) 587-0400

  • Offices at 1151 Punchbowl Street, in the Kalanimoku State Office Building have limited in-person access.
  • Please call the number above or contact DLNR at dlnr@hawaii.gov

Engineering Division – (808) 587-0230

  • Engineering Division Office, Room 221, in the Kalanimoku State Office Building are closed to in-person access, except for deliveries and mail drop off/pick-up.
  • E-mail inquiries to dlnr.engr@hawaii.gov

Administrative Services Office (Fiscal Office) – (808) 587-0344

  • The office at 1151 Punchbowl Street, in the Kalanimoku State Office Building, is not accepting walk-in payments. Payments can be mailed to P.O. Box 621, Honolulu, HI 96809-0621.

State Historic Preservation Office (SHPD) – (808) 692-8015

  • SHPD Offices are closed to in-person access.
  • Communications, including formal project submittals must be sent electronically.
  • The SHPD Librarian and GIS Specialist will respond to requests for digital library and archival materials, and GIS data on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • To report the inadvertent discovery of a burial site, please call the number above.

Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) – (808) 243-5020

  • KIRC’s Wailuku Office is closed to in-person access.
  • All Kaho‘olawe trolling permits will only be accepted by mail. Boat stickers and permits will be mailed to applicants.
  • Mail permit applications to: 811 Kolu St., Suite 201, Wailuku, HI 96793
  • The KIRC will be continuing recovery and restoration activities due to a recent wildfire on Kaho‘olawe, but work groups are being reduced in size.

Land Division – (808) 587-0419

  • All Land Division Offices statewide are closed to in-person access.

Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL) – (808) 587-0377

  • OCCL Offices are closed to in-person access.
  • For information about Conservation District regulations and policies visit the OCCL webpage.
  • Applications and inquiries can be mailed to Office of Conservation & Coastal Lands, P.O. 621, Honolulu, HI 96809-0621.

Division of State Parks – (808) 587-0300

  • State Parks Offices statewide are closed to in-person access
  • Caretakers will continue to maintain, monitor and service parks during these closures.
  • Camping and pavilion use permits are suspended.
  • Vendors and concessions are being contacted with cease-of-operations instructions.
  • The following parks will be closed effective, March 18, 2020

Hawai‘i Island:   

‘Akaka Falls State Park

Kekaha Kai State Park

Wailoa River State Recreation Area

Wailuku River State Park

Hāpuna Beach SRA

Kīholo State Park Reserve

Kaua‘i:

All State Parks, Recreational Piers, Wilderness Parks and Historic Parks

Maui:

Iao Valley State Monument

Wai’anapanapa State Park

Kaumahina State Wayside

Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside

Makena State Park

Polipoli State Recreational Area-cabin and tent camping

Molokai:

Pala’au State Park

Oahu:

All State Parks, Monuments, Waysides, Lookouts, Historical Sites and Recreation Areas

Chair Case commented, “While we are disappointed to have to close parks and facilities and to cancel hunts, camping, special use permits and events, due to the necessity of social distancing, the health and safety of our staff serving the public and the safety of the community is our highest priority. We continue working very closely with other state agencies and will provide updates about any additional closures or restrictions that might be necessary to keep everyone safe.”