Experts say Hawaii on track to see more spikes in COVID-19 cases
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With COVID-19 cases spiking and mask wearing mixed, some experts are concerned that the new number of new infections will continue to swell.
A graph by UH epidemiologist DeWolfe Miller and mathematics professor emeritus Tom Ramsey shows after a spike in April, Hawaii flattened the curve.
But the peak of 41 cases reported Tuesday doesn’t even fit on the chart.
Health Director Bruce Anderson says he’d be worried if there’s a continuous rise in cases.
“I believe we are going to see spikes. We are going to see outbreaks that we didn’t anticipate,” he said.
“We are going to see super spreaders coming in. We are going to have clusters of cases associated with different facilities and we expect to see a variation.”
UH epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Lee is the lead modeler and forecaster for the state. He projects in nearly two weeks, there could be up to 1,226 cases statewide ― a potential jump of 155 cases.
"Based on what I've scenarioed out, it's not going to improve," he said.
"I would say if things are going the way they are what we are seeing right now is just a preview unless everyone does the simple things like wear a mask social distance and stay home if you are sick," Lee added.
Meanwhile, police are cracking down on those not wearing face coverings.
From July 3 to July 5, Honolulu police issued 108 face mask warnings and two citations. Violations are a misdemeanor with fines up to $5,000 and up to a year in prison.
Health experts says policing isn't enough.
"We can't just have a policy on masks. They have to understand the reason behind it so they can actually want to do it," said Lee.
Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, said people sometimes come into stores with their mask on and then take it off.
“If you feel comfortable in a place sometimes you forget, you forget some of your social distancing kind of things,” Yamaki said.
She says with cases spiking, businesses are doing the best they can.
"If it does happen, you take all the precautionary measures so that you clean up your business so that it safe so that people can return and they do feel safe going into your business again," she said.
Anderson says his department is looking at inspections and other enforcement tactics to ensure businesses stay as safe as possible.
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