Honolulu’s mayor calls COVID surge ‘daunting,’ but says he’s not in favor of lockdown

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 1:57 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 27, 2021 at 9:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi on Friday recognized the severity of an ongoing COVID surge that’s filled Hawaii hospitals, but said he’s not in favor of a lockdown.

Instead, he said the city will continue to crack down on large gatherings and promote vaccinations.

Also next week, he plans to release more details about a “vaccine pass” program for restaurants, bars and gyms. The rules would apply to patrons and employees and include a testing option.

As COVID cases skyrocket in Hawaii, some have called for tough restrictions to dramatically bring down case counts and help relieve pressure on the state’s health care system.

But others have pushed back, saying the economic toll of a shutdown would be too great and that hospitals ― while running low on capacity ― are managing the surge.

On Friday, the state saw a record 1,035 new cases. Of those, 672 were on Oahu.

Meanwhile, Friday was also the deadliest day of the pandemic so far. All nine of Friday’s newly-reported COVID deaths were on Oahu.

“I think we’ve come to a different place. The hospitals are being pushed to capacity. They’re seeing death rates we haven’t seen before,” Blangiardi said, as he urged those “on the fence” to get vaccinated. “The good news is we don’t have any problem with access to vaccines.”

There are a number of vaccine mandates already in effect for public and private sector workers. Blangiardi acknowledged it will take weeks to reap the benefits of any increased vaccination rates.

As of Friday, a little over 62% of Hawaii’s population was fully vaccinated.

“Our best weapon against this disease is the vaccine,” Blangiardi said.

“We’re going to proceed in every way possible to continue to work our way through this. We want to do anything and everything we can to mitigate community spread.”

This story will be updated.

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