Health care workers: Stay-at-home orders in Hawaii are too lenient, confusing

Updated: Mar. 23, 2020 at 5:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In an open letter Monday, Hawaii health care providers told the governor and all three of Hawaii’s mayors that emergency orders put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus in the islands are confusing ― and too lenient.

Hundreds in the medical community are instead pushing for a 14-day statewide lock down.

In the two-page open letter, Hawaii physicians urged the governor and mayors to act immediately and far more aggressively.

They said “essential” reasons to leave the house should include grocery shopping, getting gas, going to the bank, and for health care or prescriptions.

Maui pediatric anesthesiologist Dr. Kai Matthes says he believes government’s intentions are good but says the actions fall short of what they needs to be.

“Most people fall in one of these categories of exemptions and that leads to the rules not being effective,” said Matthes.

The letter also advises government to drastically limit who’s considered an essential employee ― reserving the category for healthcare workers, first responders, airport staff and businesses for food and supply demand.

Under the stay-at-home orders for the state and city, though, essential professions are wide-ranging. They include everyone from health care workers to accountants to plumbers and gardeners.

“Because of all the exemptions, a lot of citizens can still have the ability to be in the street, and go to the beach and be out in about. In the long run it’s going to hurt us," Matthes said.

If Hawaii sees a surge in cases, necessary resources are limited.

Matthes said data from Italy shows between 9 and 11% of the people who contract COVID-19 require intensive care.

Officials confirm there are only 340 intensive care beds and 583 ventilators in the entire state.

The Hawaii Healthcare Provider community also said it’s extremely concerned about the shortage of personal protective equipment in hospitals, saying it puts crucial providers at high risk.


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