Hawaii state senator tests positive for coronavirus

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii lawmaker has tested positive for coronavirus. The lieutenant governor, who is also a physician, wants to limit travel to the islands to fight the spread of coronavirus, and the state Department of Health said the number of people who tested positive has reached 26.

Here’s a roundup of developments in Hawaii:

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LAWMAKER TESTS POSITIVE

Hawaii state Sen. Clarence Nishihara was informed Thursday that he tested positive for coronavirus.

Nishihara is the first known Hawaii lawmaker to test positive and the first at the Hawaii State Capitol building, Senate communications spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said.

Senate President Ron Kouchi sent a memo recommending all Senate offices close until further notice.

Nishihara is a Democrat in his fourth term representing Oahu communities that include Waipahu and Pearl City.

SUSPEND TRAVEL AND QUARANTINE

All “non-essential” travel to Hawaii through the end of April should be suspended in an effort to defeat the pandemic in Hawaii, Lt. Gov. Josh Green recommended in a Thursday tweet.

Green, who is also an emergency room physician, also wants to see anyone who comes to Hawaii quarantined for two weeks.

“I don’t want to be alarmist, but our entire community needs to take this seriously,” he said.

Earlier this week, Gov. David Ige encouraged visitors to postpone their island vacations for at least the next 30 days.

KAUAI IS ON VACATION

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami wants visitors to avoid traveling to the island for recreational purposes.

“Kauai is on vacation!” he said in statement.

He urged vacation industry planners to refrain from marketing the island as a place to visit “during this time in order to protect the health and safety of the community.”

LIFEGUARDS NOT ON DUTY

Honolulu lifeguards are not on duty. City officials said lifeguards need to be properly equipped with personal protective equipment in case they come into contact with infected people.

In the meantime, Honolulu firefighters, police and paramedics will respond to emergencies.

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES REDUCES FLIGHTS

Hawaiian Airlines is reducing its flight schedule by nearly 40 percent in April as Hawaii deals with increasing coronavirus cases.

The airline is suspending nonstop service between Honolulu and Papeete, Tahiti, because of restrictions by the French Polynesian government.

For Japan service, there will be a reduction in flights between Honolulu and Osaka’s Kansai Airport and between Honolulu and Fukuoka.

For the month of April, nonstop service between Maui and Las Vegas will be suspended. Flights will continue between Honolulu and Las Vegas.

The airline is also adjusting other flights to North America and interisland Hawaii flights.

SENIOR SHOPPING HOURS

A group of Hawaii grocery stores plans to reserve specific hours for seniors and other customers who could see the worst effects of the coronavirus, officials said.

All Foodland, Foodland Farms and Sack N Save stores statewide will serve only seniors during their first hour of business on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

Target Corporation said it will reserve the first hour of shopping each Wednesday for vulnerable customers, including seniors and people with underlying health concerns. Target will close no later than 9 p.m. daily.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. The vast majority of those who are infected recover. But for the elderly and people with existing conditions, it can cause more severe illness.

“We know that many of our seniors are concerned about their health and safety during this current crisis, and we want to provide them an opportunity to shop with us in a less-crowded environment,” Jenai S. Wall, Foodland Supermarket Ltd. chairman and CEO, said in a statement Wednesday.

Honolulu-based Foodland’s special hours for customers at least 60 are expected to run through March 31. Foodland’s “Senior Thursday” 5% discount will also be applicable during the special hours.

Caregivers or assisting family members will be allowed to accompany the older customers.

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The state’s 32 Foodland, Foodland Farms and Sack N Save stores will remain open during normal business hours, beginning at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. depending on location.

The decision to provide shopping hours exclusively for seniors came after numerous requests, Foodland spokeswoman Sheryl Toda said.

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