Big Island beach, shoreline parks to close Friday

  • Laaloa Beach Park was busy ahead of the reopening of Hawaii County beach parks in May. Hawaii County announced Wednesday it will close all beach and shoreline parks starting Friday and continuing through Sept. 19 in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19 on the Big Island. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

Hawaii County will close all beach and shoreline parks starting Friday and continuing through Sept. 19 in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19 on the Big Island.

The activities of exercising, fishing, food gathering, use of restroom, shower facilities and access to the ocean will continue to be allowed, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense.

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Mayor Harry Kim’s office said Wednesday morning that the county is awaiting Gov. David Ige to approve Kim’s amendment to Emergency Rule 11 allowing for the closure of both state and county beaches.

The county earlier this week announced the closure of Waipio Valley in anticipation of large crowd gatherings for the Labor Day holiday weekend, combined with the lack of resources to enforce COVID-19 safe physical distancing practices.

The access road will be closed to the public from 7 a.m. Friday until 7 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8. Local traffic will be allowed to pass through, one vehicle at a time.

The announcement of closing beach and shoreline parks follows Hawaii Island’s case COVID-19 count reaching 383 Tuesday with the announcement of 19 new cases of the novel coronavirus.

Tuesday marked the eighth consecutive day of a double-digit increase in the number of new cases for the island with 174 cases identified since Aug. 25. Since Aug. 18, Hawaii County’s case count has increased a whopping 152% from 152 cases and no deaths to 383 cases and three deaths.

The county is currently averaging a 3.5% positivity rate among persons tested while the statewide rate is about 5.3%, according to the center. As of Tuesday, 33,699 people had been tested in Hawaii County.

The 19 cases announced Tuesday were among 181 new cases reported across the state, according to the Hawaii COVID-19 Joint Information Center. Of Tuesday’s cases, 157 were on Oahu, 19 were on Hawaii Island and four were on Maui.

Of the 8,653 known cases since Feb. 28, some 6,019 of those cases are still considered active. That includes 193 of the known cases on the Big Island.

To date, Oahu has recorded the majority of the state’s positive cases at 7,848 cases. Hawaii County has recorded 383 cases, Maui County 340 and Kauai County 57. Twenty-five residents have tested positive while out of the state.

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Statewide, 532 or 6% of COVID-19 patients have required hospitalization, including 16 on Hawaii Island, according to the center’s noon update.

Of the 74 deaths reported among Hawaii residents, 62 were on Oahu, eight were on Maui, three were on Hawaii Island, and one was a Kauai resident receiving treatment in Arizona at the time he died.

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