Despite economic pain, Ige urges cautious path forward in COVID-19 recovery

Gov. Ige press conference to discuss coronavirus response

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For more than three weeks, Hawaii has seen fewer than six new coronavirus cases. On some days, no new cases have been reported.

But as businesses across the state either reopen or prepare to do so, Gov. David Ige is cautioning Hawaii residents to move forward carefully.

“We need to be vigilant,” the governor said, during a press conference on Monday.

“I know that this has been difficult. People want to get out of their homes and socialize. But if we stop following these guidelines, we will lose all of the progress we have achieved."

Two new cases of coronavirus were reported Monday, bringing the total number statewide to 634. And roughly 90% of those who have contracted the illness have recovered.

With the healthcare concerns surrounding the pandemic at least temporarily under control, the attention of many has turned back toward economic stability.

Shopping centers and retailers were allowed to reopen across Maui County on Monday, albeit with a fresh set of guidelines that include prohibit physical contact and mandate the continued wearing of face coverings ― measures that Oahu’s retail businesses are also expected to implement when they are allowed to reopen on Friday.

Discussions were underway Monday among state and county authorities to determine when so-called “medium-risk” businesses, like hair salons and restaurants, would be allowed to welcome customers once again ― and how difficult it is proving to balance health concerns with economic worries.

“At some point, we have to accept risk, and we have to accept the fact that people will become infected,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, the state’s incident commander for coronavirus response.

“We need to try to push it to the threshold of what our healthcare system can handle without exceeding the ICU and the ventilator capacity.”

And in a somber moment Monday, while speaking to a state Senate committee on the coronavirus pandemic, Hara warned that failure to get the state’s finances back on secure ground could have dire consequences.

“If we let the economy go the way it’s going, I feel there could be significant civil unrest that could lead to civil disobedience and, in the worst case civil disturbance and rioting,” Maj. Gen. Hara said.

When asked about Hara’s remarks, Ige said he was confident in the state’s decision making with regards to the reopening process.

“We have to have the right conditions to move our economy forward,” Ige said.

This story will be updated.

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