Some Hawaii experts call for new restrictions as COVID cases soar
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The record number of new COVID cases has prompted some medical experts to call for new restrictions.
But Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said the number of people being treated at Hawaii’s hospitals is still at manageable levels.
The state on Sunday announced 2,205 new infections, an increase of 614 or nearly 39% from Saturday.
The World Health Organization recently has said the number of people infected in a given area by the Omicron variant can double every one and a half to three days.
Dr. Scott Miscovich, a COVID expert, said that means the variant could soon overrun Hawaii’s hospitals.
“We’ve been advocating for more restrictions for a while. And the restrictions have to go back to when we had the tiered system,” he said.
Miscovich said limiting indoor gatherings to 100 people, limiting seating at restaurants to six per table and making the third booster shot mandatory could help slow down the disease.
He believes the state should also tighten its Safe Travels program to require testing within 24 hours of flying, even for fully vaccinated travelers.
But even with the soaring case counts, Blangiardi said imposing another round of restrictions during the holidays would be difficult to enforce.
“I’m going to continue on this theme: This is about personal responsibility and not government telling them what they can and cannot do. Quite honestly, I think Christmas week would have been the worst time of all to impose restrictions because everybody has so much in play,” he said.
Blangiaridi said much of his decision is being driven by the hospitalization rate.
Currently, there are 84 people in the hospital with COVID. While that’s more than double what it was 10 days ago, it’s still well below the peak levels during the late summer Delta variant surge.
“Right now we are in a very manageable situation, despite the rising case counts,” Blangiardi said.
“Putting on the restrictions right now would be rough on the economy. The one thing I’ve heard from businesses very quickly is that as this began to escalate is that we can’t take a third shutdown.”
Both the mayor and Lt. Gov. Josh Green are in favor of increasing the availability of booster shots and testing. They’re also urging people to avoid large gatherings.
“I recommended the following: Have booster clinics everywhere within easy driving (distance) ... and allow for as much free testing as you can,” Green said.
Green said an increase in testing and booster shot clinics around the state will likely be announced on Monday.
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