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As number of COVID-19 infections soar on Oahu, state says new restrictions are near

Updated: Aug. 18, 2020 at 9:04 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state on Monday said Oahu residents should prepare for “additional targeted restrictions” as the number of new COVID-19 infections continues to soar.

In a two-sentence statement Monday afternoon, a state spokesman handling coronavirus communications wrote:

“Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell met at length today and agreed that additional targeted restrictions will be needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on Oahu. We anticipate an announcement, with details, this week.”

Hawaii reported 174 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, pushing the statewide total for cases since the pandemic began to 5,215.

Meanwhile, the number of active cases in the islands stands at 3,307.

Over the weekend, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said passing the 3,000-mark threshold for active cases would be justification for another “stay-at-home” order on Oahu.

In a new video statement Monday on Facebook, Green reiterated that concern, saying that hospitalization continue to skyrocket.

“We’re going to get this under control. Please stay with us,” Green said.

The promise of new mandates aimed at reining in the spread of coronavirus on Oahu comes amid growing frustration with the state’s handling of the crisis.

At a news conference Monday, members of a House committee on COVID-19 said the lack of data from the state Health Department and its inability to contact trace infections mean that the only way Oahu can bring its cases under control is with sweeping restrictions rather than with tailored policies.

“You can be surgical if you have data. If you don’t have data, you have to use a sledgehammer,” said Dr. Mark Mugiishi, president and CEO of HMSA. “The need for more restrictions to me is obvious.”

Among other things, the committee members say they have been unable to get information on where cases are emerging and whether infected individuals may have gotten others sick.

Businesses said that the lack of information has frustrated any efforts to plan for the next few months.

“More businesses are looking at closing and the less information they get means that they’r’e looking at closing sooner,” said Pam Tumpap, president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.

“There’s so little trust in the system and business feel they are being let down.”

Others said a broad shutdown order will be devastating for companies already on the brink because of the previous lockdown.

“To shut down the entire state again, businesses are going to die, especially if they’re not the hot spots and not causing the pandemic,” said Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii.

Business leaders also criticized the state for shutting down travel between the neighbor islands where the spread has been minimal.

“We also have businesses that are really disappointed that can’t fly from our islands to the other the neighbor islands. We were actually depending ... on kamaania tourists and that got shut down,” said Wendy Laros, executive director of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce.

“Why can’t we fly from here to Kauai or from Kauai to here.”

The 174 new infections Monday includes 163 on Oahu, nine on Maui and two on the Big Island. The new cases were out of 2,251 tests administered, which translates into a 7.7% positivity rate.

Monday is the 14th straight day that Hawaii has seen new cases in the triple digits, in an alarming situation that has threatened to overwhelm Oahu hospitals.

In recent days, growing clusters have emerged at the state’s largest jail and an Iwilei homeless shelter. There have also been a rising number of cases associated with care homes.

So far this month, Hawaii has seen more than 3,100 new coronavirus infections.

There were no new deaths reported Monday. The death toll from the virus in Hawaii stands at 40.

Here’s the latest county-by-county breakdown of confirmed positives:

  • Total cases: 4,754
  • Released from isolation: 1,534
  • Required hospitalization: 248
  • Deaths: 33
  • Total cases: 235 (includes 2 on Molokai)
  • Released from isolation: 161
  • Required hospitalization: 30
  • Deaths: 6
  • Total cases: 54
  • Released from isolation: 46
  • Required hospitalization: 1
  • Deaths: 0
  • Total cases: 149
  • Released from isolation: 127
  • Required hospitalization: 6
  • Deaths: 0
  • Hawaii residents diagnosed out-of-state: 23
  • Hawaii residents who have died out-of-state: 1
  • Pending assignment to county: 0

This story will be updated.

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