loader image
a doctor sits at a desk

Dr. Josh Green at Kohala Hospital. Photo via Lieutenant Governor Josh Green's Facebook page.

Here’s Your Up-to-Date Info About COVID-19 and Its Impact on Big Island Communities

As more and more information comes in with COVID-19 Big Island news, closures, community response, and more we want to give you a one-stop source to find information about your specific communities.

We will be updating this post on an ongoing basis as more information comes out regarding COVID-19 in Big Island communities. We plan to focus primarily on our island, to ensure that we all work together as a community to weather this storm. If you have any tips or information to share, please email aloha at bigislandpulse.com. We are also looking for volunteers to help us gather this information. Please reach out if you'd like to be of assistance to your community.

Be sure to read our Letter from the Publisher regarding BigIslandPulse.com's continued commitment to being a community resource, especially in these tough times.

 

COVID-19 Big Island NEWS Friday, April 10

KWXX just launched a business directory that the community can consult in order to see what businesses are still open, in a variety of categories. Businesses that want to be included with a listing for FREE can fill out the online form.

Hawai‘i Public Library is offering free movie streaming services for 30 days for those who have a Hawai‘i Public Library card. Visit their website for more information.

Are you over 65, living in Hawai`i and need assistance? Our Kupuna will collect your information and connect you with a sponsor to check in with you once a week and grab food and necessary supplies so you don’t have to leave your home. Visit their website or call 808-400-4506.

Effective April 13 Foodland shoppers are required to wear a mask to shop inside the store, and each shopper will only be allowed to have one additional person in the store with them.

I also discovered the hard way that Verizon is still open, but they are not allowing customers inside without a mask.

For those looking for ways to help, Kupuna Kare is looking for volunteers for their kupuna assistance programs. Find out more on their website.

COVID-19 Big Island NEWS Monday, March 30

Hawaii Electric Co continues to adjust its operations to meet the needs of the community during the COVID-19 crisis. This includes suspending disconnections through May 17 (an extension of April 17), lowering the amount of meter readers in the field, postponing less urgent repair work, and keeping their walk-in payment centers closed through April 30 (and extension of March 30). Learn more HERE.

Keiki care packs from Activate Hawai‘i Aid are available TODAY at multiple sites throughout the island. Each bag is full of snacks, easy meals, and educational and fun goodies.

 

Under the Bodhi Tree and Sysco are partnering to do another free grocery giveaway TODAY. The giveaway is from 3 to 4 p.m., all you need to do is drive up to their back door (Suite 116 at Shops at Mauna Lani) and they will hand you a pre-packaged bag. One bag per car until they run out.

*Help support this program by grabbing a plate lunch from 3 to 5 p.m. or feel free to drop off a monetary donation. Plate lunches are all $8 – choose from ulu curry over rice, tofu fried rice, marinara farfalle, or a cup of kombucha for $4.

Keep Hawai‘i Cooking is offering a great program to help both families and restaurants in need. Their Let’s Split the Bill program allows you to pick up food from participating restaurants, post on social media, and submit a copy of your receipt, and KHC will reimburse 50% of the cost of your meal up to $100. Find more info about the program, as well as participating restaurants that include Asami’s Kitchen, Reuben’s Mexican Restaurant, Poi Dog Deli, and Thai Thai Bistro & Bar HERE.

First Hawaiian Bank is offering relief programs for their customers: If you are experiencing financial difficulties, we encourage you to contact your banker or visit our new financial assistance website at financialassistance.fhb.com. Through this safe and secure site, you can conveniently make a request for the relief that is best suited to address your financial needs. You can receive deferrals for PayAnyDay personal loans, auto loans, and credit cards up to three (3) months and mortgage loan forbearance up to six (6) months. Small Business customers can take advantage of payment deferrals, fee waivers, and online banking assistance.

Here’s the upcoming schedule for Hawai‘i Island’s Food Basket drive-thru food distribution:

 

Texaco stations are offering free coffee for health care professionals, now through April 30. Just present some form of work ID to the cashier. The offer is valid for any size cup of coffee. Participating Hawai‘i Island sites are Bayside, Waiakea, and Waikoloa Texacos.

There will be free groceries available every Saturday from 11 to 11:30 a.m. for the duration of the shelter in place order for needy families at Kahakai Elementary School.

Hilo Union School will be added to the list of HIDOE participating keiki meal sites as of April 6. See all locations and hours in the flyer below.

 

 

COVID-19 Big Island NEWS Tuesday, March 24

This awesome website is keeping an updated list of Big Island restaurants that are still open and doing take-out services. See if your favorite spot is still open and give them as much support as you can!

Ola Brew is doing can and food deliveries!! Minimum $50 orders.

 

Goodwill Hawaii stores and donation centers are closed.

Maunakea Resort and Westin Hapuna are temporarily closing, March 28 through April 30.

If you’re a farmer (no matter how small the farm), Foodland is looking for local suppliers. The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is helping to facilitate. Learn more HERE.

The Department of Transportation has announced some updates for those whose state IDs, driver’s licenses, safety checks, and vehicle registrations have expired during the crisis. Click HERE to learn more.

Vibrant Hawaii is an awesome local resource that connects people looking to donate or volunteer, as well as providing info about food, financial, and other resources.

Due to the extended spring break, beginning Monday, March 23rd KBXtreme will be starting a Wiki Student Lunch Program. This is exclusively a drive-up/walk-up service to assist our community with the nutritional needs of our pre-K thru 12th grade students that rely on the lunch they receive while at school for daily nutrition. 

 

 

St. Joseph’s School in Hilo is giving out free grab and go meals from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to all children (not just their students) this week, except for Thursday. Learn more HERE.

In light of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s temporary closure for the health and safety of everyone, and to stay connected with valued members and supporters, ‘Imiloa is proud to present a brand NEW and FREE online program called “Imiloa@Home: Resources for Backyard Explorers” available through our website. A handful of activities are available now with a new moon series on the way! Topics to include Moon Phases, Moon Observations, New Moon and more! ‘Imiloa’s website http://www.imiloahawaii.org/ will be updated with more online resources as new activities are developed over the coming weeks. We invite you to check it out! ‘Imiloa@Home: Resources for Backyard Explorers.

Keauhou Shopping Center take out options:

COVID-19 Big Island NEWS Monday, March 23

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is now completely closed to all visitors (on a temporary basis). In addition, the National Parks Service has announced that Pu'uhonua o Honaunau and Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park in Kona are closed until further notice.

Hilo and Kona Seaside Hotels and Reeds Bay Hotel have temporarily closed their operations. 

K-12 free meal sites

 

Keaukaha General Store is offering kupuna care packages for those in need. To sign up for one, or to reorder, call or text 808-333-8985 with your name, address and phone number or email contact@keaukahageneralstore.com. Learn more HERE.

If you don’t have health insurance there is a special enrollment session opening up if you meet the requirements:

 

Starting Monday, March 23 the Puna Community Medical Center will be a COVID-19 screening and testing site. The site will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. excluding state holidays. 

 

Drive through COVID-19 testing will take place on Monday, March 23 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Old Kona Airport Park. Learn more HERE.

Hilo Medical Center is recruiting emergency hires, especially for those who have lost their jobs due to the virus outbreak. Applications will be expedited to hire in the areas of housekeeping, pharmacy, food services, maintenance, and nurse aides. Find more information HERE or call (808)932-3150.

 

The Keauhou Farmers Market has implemented an innovative online ordering and drive through pick up system. Ordering will reopen on Tuesday for pickup on Thursday. Learn more HERE.

The Multimedia Initiative is offering a FREE photography class on Monday, March 24 at 7 p.m. HST on their Facebook page. Learn more HERE.

Hilo Kennels and Day Camp is offering Shelter in Place pet services that include pet food and meds pickup and delivery, veterinary shuttle, groomer shuttle, and doggie day camp options. Learn more HERE.

Is your business doing something innovative to serve the community? Please let us know!

COVID-19 Big Island NEWS Thursday, March 19

The U.S. Small Business Administration loan program will soon be accepting applications. The Hawaii Business Development and Support Division suggests that businesses start preparing their documents so that they can apply right away. Learn more and get the forms HERE.

HELCO is suspending disconnects and making donations: We have suspended disconnections for non-payment for at least 30 days, until April 17, and we may extend that period depending on the situation at the time. We are asking customers who are having trouble paying their electric bills because of the coronavirus emergency to call us about payment options and schedules. More information is available at www.hawaiianelectric.com. Also, our charitable foundation is contributing $125,000 to community partners, including the Hawai‘i Foodbank and United Way agencies on O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island to help families in need.

Many grocery stores continue to update their hours to include early hours for kupuna to shop. Thanks to Mehana Kihoi for this information.

Hawai’i Island grocery stores participating in early entry Kupuna hour:

Keaukaha General Store – EVERYDAY – 5:30 am-6:15 am

Foodland – Hawaii / Sack' N Save TUES THURS SAT – 5 am-6am

Target – WED – 7 am-8am

Safeway – TUES THUS – 7am-9am

KTA Super Stores – SUN WED (starting THIS Sunday 3/22) first hour of operations, hours vary based on location.

Lieutenant Governor Josh Green has released his recommendations for curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Hawaii, based on the successful practices in Taiwan and the Philippines.

 

COVID-19 Big Island NEWS Wednesday, March 18

In an announcement made this morning, HIDOE has extended the closure of schools through April 6. Employees will begin remote work on March 19. Learn more HERE.

Under the Bodhi Tree (Shops at Mauna Lani) is offering free breakfast and lunch to keiki who may be missing meals that they would normally receive from school. They are also offering a robust take out service, diners can order online HERE.

Event cancelations/rescheduling: Big Island Chocolate Festival is rescheduling to August 14-15

Prince Kuhio Plaza is remaining open, with modified hours, and taking precautions to limit interactions. National retailers American Eagle, Claire's, Bath & Body Works, and Regal Cinemas will be completely closing temporarily. The Easter Bunny experience will be postponed.

Island Healing Massage is offering virtual massage workshops — $20 for 30 minutes. Call (808)315-9399 to learn more.

Target has announced they will be hosting one hour of shopping for elderly and vulnerable folks each week at opening on Wednesdays. They will also be closing stores at 9 p.m. to allow for more cleaning.

COVID-19 Big Island NEWS Tuesday, March 17

Imiloa Astronomy Center is closing through March 31.

Around 3:20 p.m. Governor Ige announced that all bars and restaurants should close to visitors. They are encouraged to focus on drive-through, curbside, take out services.

As of 2 p.m. on March 17, 2020 the first COVID-19 Big Island case has been identified. A visitor from the mainland. In addition, more cases have been identified on Maui and Oahu, bringing the total cases for the state to 14.

Foodland just announced that it's adopting special shopping hours just for kupuna. Starting Thursday, March 19 and running through March 31, the first hour of the day on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays will be open only for kupuna (opening hours vary by store). (KITV story)

State wants small businesses to complete, turn in COVID-19 economic impact statements by Wednesday

DLNR has closed six state parks: Akaka Falls, Kekaha Kai State Park, Wailoa River State Recreation Area, Wailuku River State Park, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area, Kiholo State Park Reserve.

Assistance for kupuna, as well as volunteer opportunities from Hawaii Rise Foundation:

View this post on Instagram

Aloha Everyone, Unfortunately due to the current circumstances with COVID-19, our elderly are suffering. Many of them are unable to get to the stores right now, or Going to the stores and finding there is nothing left for them or Too scared to go out to get items they need to. To help address this problem, we will be making kupuna care packages for our elderly. Any elderly in need of a care package with basic essentials will be able to get one for free. The items have been ordered in bulk and we are receiving them throughout the week. We did not want to wipe out our local stores so we are working with other companies shipping directly to us. The items will include toilet paper, paper towels, face and body soap and granola bars. 1. If you or an elder that you know would like a free bag of essentials, please text or call us at 808 333 8985 for more information, and we will tell you what we need so we can have it delivered or available for pickup. 2. If you'd like to help with delivery, please also text or call with the word "DELIVERY", so we can keep you updated on ways to stay connected. 3. If you'd like to take extra initiative, since many of our kupuna do not have technology, please ADOPT a street, and go to the kupuna you know and ask them if they'd like one of these bags and get a head start so when our bags are ready, you can pick up in bulk and have delivered Mahalo to Keaukaha General Store, Hawaii Rise Foundation, Hawaii Affordable Properties INC., Aloha Grown, Creative Arts Hawaii, Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, Triple FFF Distributing, Hawaii Paper Products, American Hotel Register and all volunteers who are helping to make this possible.

A post shared by Hawaii Rise Foundation (@hawaiirisefoundation) on

HELCO is temporarily closing walk-in payment centers starting at noon on Wednesday, March 18 through March 30.

Event cancelations: 15th Annual Laupahoehoe Music Festival

ALL Hawai'i Public Libraries are closed from Wednesday, March 18 through Tuesday, March 31. More info HERE.

Nanawale Park & Pool is closed until further notice. This includes all programs, classes, and events. No food pantry event, water aerobics, functional fitness, keiki clay art, etc.

All Macy's stores will be closing nationwide starting at close of business on 3/17/20. They are scheduled to reopen on 3/30/20.

Liko Lehua at Pauahi is doing curbside pickups to help #flattenthecurve. Call 808.315.8484 to place your order.

Wailoa Arts & Culture Center is closed. Anyone with pieces in the Woodturners show can pick them up between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. this Saturday.

Hale Hookah in Hilo is suspending hookah services, but their retail shop is still open.

 

COVID-19 Big Island NEWS Monday, March 16

As of 3/16/20 Hawai'i County is the only county without any confirmed cases.

HMAA is covering the cost of COVID-19 testing for members.

Hilo Medical Center drive through testing starts Tuesday:

Spectrum offering free internet access to homes with students (KITV story) – Has anyone on BI tried to sign up for this yet? Please let us know how it went!

Event cancellations: Merrie Monarch, LavaMan Triathlon, Kona Brewers Fest (postponed), Palace Theater's production of Beauty & the Beast (postponed)

Prince Kuhio Plaza is operating on a shortened schedule – from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays and 12 to 7 p.m. every other day.

Local Delivery Options: ChoiceMart Hawaii (South Kona area), Kona Town Market is doing zero-contact delivery; Shipt is available for delivery in some areas near Kona and Hilo but seems to be overloaded and understaffed; Target offers curbside pickup.

Facebook groups that have popped up so far to help gather community members together to help one another:
Hawai'i Island Crisis & Animal Support Network by Hawai'i Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network

Mauna Kea Visitor Center is closed.

HVNP Closure Information: