Hawai´i Considers Return to Lockdowns, Discusses Well being Passes Amid Surge

The intensive care nurses Tiffany Martinez and Charlie Adler. PC: Hilo Medical Center.

As the coronavirus continues to rise in Hawaii, straining medical resources and threatening the free movement of people and trade, Governor David Ige said nothing is off the table.

This includes another mandatory lockdown.

“Is there a lockdown on the table? Yes, if the number of cases continues to grow exponentially, as it has in the past 10 weeks, ”Ige told reporters on Monday, August 23. “We need to take steps to limit the hospitals and make sure they don’t get overrun. ”

The City and County of Honolulu applied for and received state permission to cancel all social events that involve more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced the decision ahead of the governor’s press conference on Monday. It is an action that, according to Ige, is fully supported by his government.

Ige is also in talks with the leadership of all three neighboring counties, including Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth, about implementing and / or reinstating regulations that have not been seen since the early days of the pandemic.


The Roth administration called a press conference for Monday at 4 p.m., which announced in an email to the media, to announce new COVID-related rules. This public session has been postponed for unknown reasons.


Roth spoke publicly at a Hawaii County Council meeting last week about restricting public gatherings in parks and beaches operated by the county, noting that he also plans to require the governor to make pre-trip testing requirements for anyone who come to the state to reintroduce. regardless of residence or vaccination status.

Mayor Roth didn’t mention any other steps to contain the spread of the virus in the Big Island, where it is more widespread than anywhere else in the state, with the exception of O’ahu. As of Monday, the 14-day average in Hawaii was 125 new infections daily with a dangerous test positive rate of 8.3%.

The county and the IRONMAN Foundation jointly announced last week that the annual World Triathlon Championship, held in Kailua-Kona every October, would be postponed to February 2022.


Acceptable social gatherings across the state have decreased to 10 indoor and 25 outdoor, while restaurant and bar capacity has been reduced to 50%. Ige said he is in talks with major airlines who have agreed to get the message across that this is not the time to visit Hawaii. How exactly and energetically the airlines will disseminate this information was not yet clear on Monday.

“It is not a good time to go to the islands,” said the governor. “Restaurant capacity has been restricted, access to (rental) cars is limited, and we know that visitors to the islands will not experience the typical vacation they would expect on a trip to Hawaii.”

Still, nearly 25,000 travelers landed in the state on Sunday, August 22, a number surpassed almost every day that month.

PC: Pixabay

Aside from telling airlines and the visitors they roll into Hawaii to wait, the state is telling its own residents to limit both domestic and interstate travel to business and medical needs. The Department of Health (DOH) has tied most of the coronavirus spread in the community to islanders traveling to the mainland, contracting COVID-19, and then returning home.

Restricting travel, both inside and outside Hawaii, restricting social interactions, wearing face covers and paying special attention to hand hygiene will allow the state to “turn the corner” in a matter of weeks, assured Ige.

But asking residents to volunteer to shoulder the burden of COVID restrictions, a strategy this government has been addressing in recent weeks, does not seem to be working. At all.

The numbers for the corona virus continue to rise. As of Monday, the 14-day average in Hawaii is 671 new cases daily, with a worrying test-positive rate of 8.3%. Just a few weeks ago, one day would have broken the state’s pandemic record with 671 reported cases.

According to DOH director Dr. Elizabeth Char raised. And as the numbers have risen, hospital resources have all but disappeared, swallowed up in the toll the pandemic has taken mainly on Hawaii’s unvaccinated population.

As of Sunday, 392 people had been hospitalized for a COVID infection. In total, only 49 of these, or 12.5%, were breakthrough cases with vaccinated people. Since the pandemic began, 564 deaths related to COVID have been reported on all islands. Char said only three of them involved fully vaccinated patients.

“Our hospitals are busy. Our intensive care units are full, ”said Ige on Monday. “We initiate top-up plans in every facility.”

While additional health workers have arrived in the Hawaiian Islands from the mainland last week, there is an undefined breaking point where health facilities will simply no longer be able to meet demand.

Additional nurses arrive in the Hawaiian Islands amid the COVID-19 surge. Courtesy photo.

The state’s top backup plan is to retrofit a large space like a convention center to accommodate additional patients. The challenge, Ige said, is that the Delta variant is on the rise in every single state across the country. He does not believe that the federal government could and / or would fund the cost of expanding health services to the extent necessary to make this plan a reality, including hiring key health workers that Hawaii cannot produce or fund.

State health and government officials say they hope higher vaccination rates will make the need for massive health care expansion a moot point. That hope was reinforced on Monday when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the Pfizer vaccine full approval for use in people aged 16 and over. Ige and Char said the decision could encourage some of the unvaccinated Hawaiian population currently on the fence about vaccination to get the shots.

Nearly 1 million residents in the Hawaiian Islands are either fully vaccinated or have started the vaccination process, representing 70.3% of the total population.

The FDA’s decision on the Pfizer vaccine – which, like Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, was previously operated under an emergency license – has opened the door to vaccination regulations for companies. Such a mandate already exists for state and county employees in Hawaii who are required to either provide evidence of vaccination or undergo a weekly test, often at their own expense. The University of Hawaii issued its own mandate on Monday. The Associated Press reported that the Pentagon will order more than 1 million US soldiers to receive the shots as well.

Health passports, such as those issued in the cities of New York and San Francisco, are likely to become more common in the wake of the FDA declaration. Passes vary from place to place, but essentially require full or partial vaccination in order to participate in certain activities, e.g. B. for eating in the house.

Ige said his administration had discussions both internally and with the business community about introducing a health passport. Some entrepreneurs are interested but want a nationwide mandate as a token of solidarity and support, while others say they are on the verge of collapse and such a regime could lead to their closure.

In addition, many companies have difficulty recruiting full staff. Additional mandates could make these hiring efforts difficult, the governor said.

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