Honolulu Mayor on COVID-19 Surge: We Have Chosen the Scalpel
Return of tourism delayed
In a press conference today, Tuesday, August 18, 2020, Mayor Caldwell explained that over the past 4 to 5 days, he and the other mayors and Governor have been debating on whether they should us a scalpel or a hammer to the current COVID-9 surge. He said, “We have chosen the scalpel.”
The Mayor stated that Oahu is now under a program called “Act Now Honolulu – No Social Gatherings.” He said if you can work from home, then work from home. He also said that there shall be no social gatherings indoors or outdoors on the island of Oahu which means no parties of more than 5 in a private or public setting including people’s homes.
Face coverings will be required in shopping malls both indoors and outdoors and as well as in-person spiritual gatherings with no singing or wind instruments allowed. Restaurants must scale down from 10 to 5 at a table, and this applies to other activities as well, including no more than 5 at outdoor and boating activities, museums, and movie theaters. Business social gatherings are also prohibited.
Beaches, parks, trails, and bars are to remain closed. Open are restaurants, retail, fitness centers, spiritual centers, auto dealerships, real estate, and business.
Hawaii Governor Ige acknowledged the death of another person from COVID-19 and sent his condolences to the family. This brings the total number of deaths to 41. Dr. Bruce Anderson, Director of the State Department of Health, later stated that Hawaii still has the lowest level of deaths per capita than anywhere else in the country.
Governor Ige stated, “We cannot deny Hawaii is seeing a surge.” He said there are more cases in the past month than there were in the period between March and July combined. There are numerous clusters which Dr. Anderson elaborated on stating that many are connected to the correctional facility on Oahu.
Given this surge, the Governor said they need to replace some restrictions on Oahu. The targeted adjustments will be effective for 28 days starting tomorrow, Wednesday, August 19, 2020. The 28 days represents two 14-day incubations.
He further explained that this decision was difficult but thoughtful, and it is believed placing these restrictions back will help to slow and stop COVID-19 on the island. The neighbor islands will continue in the “Act with Care” phase of reopening plans as they have not seen the increases Oahu has.
The Pre-travel program that was to start on September 1 will be delayed until October 1 at the earliest as the government continues to monitor the coronavirus. It is understood the hospitality industry needs advance warning so as to meet the needs of staffing requirements once the pre-travel program does begin, and this will be factored into the decision as to when to reopen.
With the surge in COVID-19 cases, there has been an increase in hospitalizations across the state. According to Governor Ige, the state continues to be well positioned although the medical facilities are stressed from new cases and the capacity needed in order to respond to them.
Governor Ige acknowledged that after setting some reopenings in motion, the virus activity increased and then surged. The Governor and all the Mayors agree that restrictions are now necessary. Ige said: “We must all take personal responsibility to help fight the spread and stop this pandemic but only if we take action as a community. Stay home when you’re sick, keep your children home when they are sick, use your face masks and hand sanitizer.”
Dr. Anderson explained that he needed to take a brief break last week for a respite and the work to combat COVID-19 had taken its toll. He assured that he is back at work now, and Dr. Park has continued to guide outbreak control measures.
He stated that there is some good news in that the census is leveling off with lesser increases than the previous week. The state is not at a crisis level at this point, and hospitals are able to shift patients between medical centers for care.
He went on to say that Health and Human Services called him today and said that because the state is on a red list due to our current high rates, this also puts us on a priority list for medical supplies and perhaps federal support.
Many positive cases were from a cluster from Oahu Correctional Facility. There were over 270 cases that were part of this one cluster. This is common throughout the US because of the close living conditions. All in all, the numbers are not rising and are in fact plateauing. It is hoped this trend