(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi health officials spoke over the phone to media on Thursday, providing an update on the state response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Bruce Anderson, the Director of the Hawaiʻi Department of Health, and Dr. Sarah Park, the Hawaiʻi State Epidemiologist, took part in a teleconference with news reporters. The briefing was recorded by the state and shared with media.
Anderson and Park confirmed that 10 new positive cases of COVID-19 have been detected on O‘ahu and Maui. There is a total of 26 confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Hawai‘i, officials report. Of today’s new positive results, 8 individuals are on O‘ahu and 2 individuals are on Maui. All cases who tested positive in Hawaiʻi are travel related.
The health officials also talked about Governor David Ige’s plan for “15-Days to Slow the Spread” of COVID-19, which Hawai‘i recently implemented – to various different degrees. Governor Ige directed residents to “limit social gatherings to groups of 10 people or less to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” to close bars, clubs, theaters, entertainment centers and visitor attractions, and to suspend services and activities in places of worship.
The approach taken by Hawaiʻi County mayor Harry Kim, however, allows restaurants, bars, and places of worship to make their own decision as to whether they stay open or close.
“We can be more effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 if everyone takes these aggressive actions seriously,” said Bruce Anderson, director of the Hawai‘i Department of Health. “The response to the Governor and County directives has been positive so far and there are many, such as food establishments, which have identified alternative ways to serve the public with drive-through and take-out service to maintain their operations.”
The health department gave this rundown on how the four counties are taking action:
- The City and County of Honolulu has mandated the closure of restaurants, parks and nightclubs for indoor service beginning 8:30 a.m. on Friday, March 20. Restaurant take-out, curb-side pick-up and delivery will be allowed.
- The County of Kaua‘i issued an islandwide nighttime curfew beginning Friday, March 20. The curfew will be in effect from 9 p.m. through 5 a.m. daily until further notice. Individuals must remain in their residence during these specified hours, with a few exceptions.
- The County of Maui announced rules that will be in effect beginning 7:45 a.m. on Friday, March 20, limiting the gathering of groups of people and curtailing vehicular transportation except for essential activities or operation of essential business or government functions. Restaurants and cafes that serve food within the premises are required to close; however, take-out and delivery service may continue.
- Hawai‘i County issued guidance that restaurants, bars and places of worship may make their own decisions to open or close, and consider ways to minimize risk to customers and employees
“I had a conversation with Mayor Kim yesterday,” said Dr. Anderson, “and of course, urged that he consider any venue where people may gather as a potential area where people may transmit the disease. I think you’re gonna find this to be an evolving situation where additional measures will probably be recommended as as we go along here.”
“The governor did recommend that bars and restaurants be closed,” Anderson said, “and that the restaurants at least be pivoting from food service in-house to takeout and delivery and so forth. I expect that will continue. We’re going to see, probably, additional recommendations coming down the line as they relate to other matters. I would point out that the Mayor of Kauai actually has imposed a curfew. People are going to take actions which they think are appropriate on their particular Island. You will probably see more stringent actions being taken, as we go, in different places, depending on the circumstances. So this is going to be a judgment call on the part of the mayor’s and others who are struggling with this issue, just as we are here at the State.”
Governor Ige shared the following statement on the subject:
“I want to thank mayors Caldwell, Kawakami, Kim and Victorino for their swift actions in implementing the directives. These are hard decisions. We all understand the dire nature of the challenges facing our state due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are moving together in our response,” said Gov. Ige.
“The mayors understand the unique needs of their communities and are putting in place restrictions and guidance that best meet those needs. Their efforts align with CDC guidelines and the direction provided by the State Department of Health and the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency. They have my full support and commitment to continue to work cooperatively as we move forward in our efforts to fight COVID-19,” said Gov. Ige.
“These are difficult times which require difficult decisions. We know these actions are extreme, but we know they will help flatten the curve and lay the groundwork for a quicker recovery. The community needs to anticipate that more stringent measures may need to be introduced but we want to ensure everyone that any direction or mandates made will be based on facts and what’s best for our communities.
“This is a community effort. Each of us has a part to play. And I know that the best way to get through this crisis is by working together for the sake of our entire state,” added Gov. Ige.