City officials are looking at shutting down Honolulu Hale to the public early next week after learning that at least 10 employees who work in the landmark building have tested positive for COVID-19, eight of them from the same agency.
City Hall is scheduled to be open Saturday, primary election day, for people to vote and drop off their completed ballots. Both Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson and a Caldwell administration official said the Voter Services Center there, one of only two on the island along with Kapolei Hale, will stay open Saturday for those who want to walk in to vote, drop off completed ballots or have other elections business.
City spokesman Alexander Zannes said Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson and other city officials are expected to meet Monday to determine if the building should be open to the public Tuesday.
Zannes told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that of 10 positive cases known to the administration, eight are employees of the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services. BFS has offices on first, second, third and fourth floors of the building. A ninth person is an employee of the Department of Facility Maintenance. The 10th person was reported by the Council clerk’s office Thursday. None of the the employees work directly with the public, Zannes said.
Anderson said he knew of two employees of the Council Support Services Division who have tested positive. So it’s possible there are 11 known cases. After Council leaders learned that a member of their administrative support staff tested positive on Thursday morning, Anderson coordinated with Dr. Scott Miscovich of Hawaii Premiere Medical Group to conduct testing for up to 200 employees.
“Council leadership is working to keep the public and all legislative branch employee safe,” Anderson said. “We quickly brought testing online yesterday and we are prepared to test again next week.”
Anderson’s office said 87 people were tested Thursday and, of those, 18 negative and three positive cases were discovered. The three positives are among the 10 confirmed by Zannes The city is still awaiting the results of the other tests.
All 10 are in isolation and additional disinfection and cleaning protocols are taking place in the affected offices, Zannes said
City leaders are hoping to find out the results of those tests before making a decision on a shutdown, Zannes said.
The Council is slated to hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting Wednesday. Anderson said no decision has been made about whether that meeting will still take place.
The State Capitol, across Punchbowl Street from Honolulu Hale, has been shut down to the public since March after a state employee working out of the Legislative Reference Bureau tested positive and the number of cases across the state began to grow.
But unlike at the Capitol, Honolulu Hale is used to provide various customer services daily. BFS has property tax, purchasing and treasury functions on the first floor, Diamond Head side of the building while the Elections Division is on the Ewa side.