Story at a glance
- In response to the increase in new cases, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) has implemented public health mandates, like closing parks and beaches.
- Travelers arriving to the archipelago will be required to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
With the island state struggling to keep COVID-19 case counts low, Hawaii Governor David Ige (D) has decided to reinstate public health mandates to help mitigate the virus spread as officials expect deaths and hospitalizations to rise, CNBC reports.
“There is no question that the virus is surging in our state, and I know that many are worried about their health,” Ige told reporters on Thursday. “As we reopened our community, people let their guard down. It’s been very disappointing.”
State health department data reports a total of 2,914 reported cases — a figure significantly lower than most counties in the U.S. mainland. However, the trajectory of new cases has shown a sharp uptick since July, with Honolulu County leading the state in case volume.
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On Aug. 3, the state recorded its highest daily case count, with 178 new positive cases added to the state total.
Ige explained that it is this surge that has the potential to overwhelm Hawaii’s hospital apparatus.
“We’re also seeing an increase in hospitalizations,” he explained, “and from the beginning we have all stated that our health care capacity is a key indicator that we need to monitor to ensure that the number of Covid-19 cases does not overwhelm our hospitals and our health-care system.”
Bruce Anderson, the director of Hawaii’s Department of Health noted that the vast majority of Hawaiians hospitalized with severe coronavirus infections are on Oahu, where Honolulu is located. More than half of the state’s intensive care units (ICUs) have already reached capacity.
“At this time, it’s projected that our intensive care units at the hospitals on Oahu will be filled to capacity and overrun by the end of this month,” he said. “There will be more deaths and more hospitalizations in weeks to come because of gatherings and other activities from crowding.”
Some of the new mandates include inter-island travel restrictions to keep the virus from spreading and continuing to order travelers arriving in Kauai, Hawaii, Maui and Kalawao counties to quarantine for two weeks. This order will be in effect until the end of August.
“I know that many of you will be disappointed to hear this news — inter-island travel was an important way for families to keep in touch — but I wish this was not necessary but the health and safety of our community remains our highest priority,” Ige acknowledged. “I hate it when I see people not wearing masks, gathering in public places at the beach or at the parks, or partying with no regard to the health and safety of our community.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell (D) also noted that about 300 city and county parks will be closed to the general public beginning Friday and lasting through Sept. 5. No activities outside of swimming, surfing and fishing on beaches will be permitted.
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