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Hawaii teacher arrested for violating traveler quarantine

Mark Alan Cooper was seen at the post office days after returning from the Mainland

The Associated Press

HONOLULU — An Oahu high school teacher was arrested for violating the 14-day traveler quarantine the state mandated to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Agents from the Hawaii attorney general’s office arrested Mark Alan Cooper last week. Cooper, 48, of Mililani, returned to Honolulu from Florida on July 27. An acquaintance spotted him at a post office a few days later, the state said.

The acquaintance reported him to a citizen’s group that helps track down people who violate the quarantine. The group then reported him to authorities.

Cooper, a teacher at Campbell High School, traveled to Florida because of an illness in his family, his attorney, Rustam Barbee said Wednesday.

After his arrest, he resumed his quarantine period, which ended Monday, Barbee said.

Cooper was arrested a week after teachers statewide returned to work. It’s not clear if he had been on campus before his arrest.

“We can confirm that Mark Alan Cooper is a teacher at Campbell High School, and that this individual requested the appropriate leave for quarantine purposes,” state Department of Education spokesman Drew Henmi said in an email.

The department declined to provide details about when he requested leave, citing a need to protect his privacy as an employee.

Student instruction begins Monday, with most schools starting the year online.

“Parents are also disappointed that the (Education Department) hasn’t announced his arrest,” said Angela Keen, one of the leaders of Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers, the group that reported Cooper to authorities. “Teachers are held to a higher standard, and this is no exception.”

A news release from the Hawaii COVID-19 Joint Information Center announcing his arrest didn’t mention he’s a teacher.

“Mr. Cooper has never had COVID-19 and has never infected anyone,” Barbee said.

A court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 25.

According to court records he was cited in April for violating emergency orders by allegedly walking in a park that was closed because of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the state COVID-19 Joint Information Center reported four deaths Wednesday, bringing the state total 38, including six on Maui. Two men were more than 60 years old and two other men were between 40 and 59 years old with at least one man with an underlying health condition, the center reported. Investigations into the deaths continue.

There were 202 new cases in Hawaii on Wednesday, 197 on Oahu, one on Maui, two on Hawaii island and two on Kauai. The state total is now 3,958 cases with 3,558 on Oahu, 191 in Maui County (including two on Molokai and none on Lanai), 135 on Hawaii island and 52 on Kauai. Twenty three residents were diagnosed outside of Hawaii.

The Health Department said community spread, particularly on Oahu, is to blame for most of the cases. There were multiple clusters on Oahu, including five involving restaurants. Honolulu Hale, the seat of Honolulu County, is the source of 11 cases among City and County of Honolulu workers.

* The Maui News contributed to this report.

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