Honolulu inmates will no longer be counted in City’s COVID-19 tier count, says Mayor Caldwell

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — UPDATE: Dec. 22 5:06 p.m.: Wait times for City Card activation by phone may be longer than normal due to high call volumes. If you are not able to connect to the provided phone number on your card due to technical difficulties, please call the City’s call center at 768-2489. If you are able to leave a voicemail with the City Card activation phone number, the City says you should be receiving a call back shortly.


The Hawaii State Department of Health’s COVID-19 count has shown a much higher number of cases among inmates in recent days. As a result, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says the City will begin to remove inmate positive cases from the tier count in hopes to help Oahu moves ahead with more reopenings.

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According to the Department of Health, 1,035 cases were related to correctional facilities on the latest cluster report. Meanwhile, Caldwell says the high transmission rate affects the City’s ability to move through the tiers.

Honolulu has sat in Tier Two of its reopening strategy since late October and moving into Tier Three before Christmas will no longer be possible as the number of COVID-19 cases remain at a higher rate.

“One thing is for sure, the people of Oahu, you guys are working incredibly hard,” the mayor said. “If we had no prisoners in the count, we would have 49 cases. Pretty darn good.”  

The mayor made a request to Governor David Ige to remove the inmate population from the count more than a week ago.

Ige says he agrees about the inmates but wants cases from correctional staff to remain in the count.

“They are members of our community, and when they are not working, they are out and about in our community,” Ige said. “We do believe that case count for staff should be included in the tiered system.”

Caldwell says the City will monitor cases at hospitals to find out if removing inmates from the count has an impact since COVID-19 case numbers are used to estimate ICU bed capacity weeks in advance.

Meanwhile, the $500 City Card has been shipped to more than 3,700 people right before Christmas, but it did come with some technical issues. The phone number to call for the card activation was offline for part of Monday, but the City says that issue has now been resolved.

The number to call to activate the card is 1-800-342-7374. The call center will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information and to get live updates on the City Card, click here.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated incorrect operating hours for the City Card call center due to the City providing incorrect information. The City has clarified the correct hours and the story has been corrected. Additionally, more information regarding contacting the call center has been added.

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