Hawaii reinstates coronavirus restrictions: ‘There’s no question that the virus is surging’

A pedestrian wearing a protective mask passes in front of a vacant storefront displaying graffiti that reads “Unmask Maui” in Paia, Maui County, Hawaii, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020.

Mia Shimabuku | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Hawaii Gov. David Ige will reinstate restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus as cases in the state continue to climb and state health officials predict more deaths and hospitalizations in the weeks to come. 

“There is no question that the virus is surging in our state, and I know that many are worried about their health,” Ige said at a press briefing Thursday. “As we reopened our community, people let their guard down. It’s been very disappointing.”

As of Thursday, cases in Hawaii have grown by more than 85% over the previous week, hitting a record high of roughly 132 new cases per day based on a seven-day moving average, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The almost 3,000 total cases in Hawaii are relatively low compared with other states, but Ige said the recent surge poses a threat to the state’s hospital system.

“We’re also seeing an increase in hospitalizations, and from the beginning we have all stated that our health-care capacity is a key indicator that we need to monitor to ensure that the number of Covid-19 cases does not overwhelm our hospitals and our health-care system,” Ige said. 

Of the 117 total hospitalized Covid-19 patients in Hawaii, 115 were on Oahu, home to Honolulu, said Bruce Anderson, director of the state’s Department of Health. More than half of the intensive care unit beds on the island are filled, he said. 

“At this time, it’s projected that our intensive care units at the hospitals on Oahu will be filled to capacity and overrun by the end of this month,” Anderson said. “There will be more deaths and more hospitalizations in weeks to come because of gatherings and other activities from crowding.” 

Ige said the state will reinstate its inter-island travel restrictions beginning on Tuesday, ordering travelers arriving in Kauai, Hawaii, Maui and Kalawao counties to quarantine for 14 days. The inter-island quarantine, which was lifted on June 16, will continue through the end of August unless it’s terminated or extended by a separate proclamation, according to the order. 

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the almost 300 city and county parks on the island of Oahu will close beginning Friday through Sept. 5, including the beaches. He said there will be no activities allowed on the beach or in the parks, although residents can still walk on them to surf, swim, fish and other activities. 

“I know that many of you will be disappointed to hear this news — inter-island travel was an important way for families to keep in touch — but I wish this was not necessary, but the health and safety of our community remains our highest priority,” Ige said. “I hate it when I see people not wearing masks, gathering in public places at the beach or at the parks, or partying with no regard to the health and safety of our community.”

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