(BIVN) – As the State of Hawaiʻi prepares for the impacts of the increase in COVID-19 cases on Oʻahu, the federal government – represented by the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, who is now in Honolulu – is stepping in to help.
Today, Governor David Ige approved a new “State-at-Home, Work-at-Home” order for the City and County of Honolulu, which goes into effect at midnight on Thursday for the following two weeks.
At a news conference at the Honolulu Fire Department headquarters, Governor David Ige, Mayor Kirk Caldwell, U.S. Surgeon General Adams, and Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green talked about the plan to conduct “surge testing” in the coming days.
“On O‘ahu, the surge over the past few weeks threatens to stress our healthcare system beyond its capacity,” said Governor Ige. “We appreciate the support from the City and County of Honolulu and the federal government. This is clearly an all-country and all-community effort. The surge testing announced today, allows us to reach deeper into specific communities and to make sure we reach every single individual who has been infected. The surge testing is a game changer.”
The federal government is funding this mass testing in cooperation with various state and county partners and supporters, the State says. “When we talk about positivity rates (green-less than 5%; yellow-5% to 10%; red-greater than 10%), Hawai‘i is yellow; at a turning point, and can go either direction very quickly,” Surgeon General Adams said. “It is important to combine this shut down…this temporary shut-down, while we get tested, quarantine, and have contact tracing done. You have the power to make it temporary.”
State and County officials also made this announcement on new plans to quarantine the infected:
The City and County of Honolulu and DOH have joined forces to provide resources for O‘ahu families and individuals that need to isolate or quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19. DOH’s Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) has partnered with the City and County to provide intake and support services for isolation and quarantine and the City has executed a contract with a local hotel to provide an additional 130 rooms for isolation and quarantine on O‘ahu. With this expanded capacity, there will be a total of more than 300 rooms available for use in Honolulu. DOH will provide case management and wrap around services to support families and individuals who may need resources and social services during their 14-day isolation or quarantine.
The City has contracted with the hotel and provided the funding for the additional 130 rooms through federal grant funds available for COVID-19 response. Mayor Caldwell said, “As cases increased, we realized the tremendous need for more isolation and quarantine units and stepped in with support. With sometimes crowded living conditions for large households on O‘ahu, these units will help to support families and individuals without the means to effectively prevent spreading the virus.” Eddie Mersereau, the deputy director of DOH’s BHA said, “We are grateful to the City for providing the additional resources needed to offer temporary rooms for individuals to safely isolate and quarantine. Working together, the City and State are providing social services and basic support to those who do not have homes or places to safely stay while they quarantine or isolate due to COVID.”
BHA has activated the Hawai‘i CARES hotline to provide assistance and triage of cases. The Hawai‘i CARES call center is the state’s centralized resource for mental health and substance use treatment assistance. During the pandemic, the call center duties will be expanded for arranging appropriate placement for isolation/quarantine. The Hawai‘i CARES hotline can be reached on O‘ahu by calling (808) 832-3100, Neighbor Island residents can call toll free at 1-800-753-6879, or reach by fax at (808) 453-6994. For more information about Hawaii CARES, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, the Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i says nurses are needed to assist hospitals as COVID-19 cases surge in Hawai‘i:
Hawai‘i hospitals are urgently seeking nurses, including recent nursing graduates, because of the increasing number of hospitalizations due to the surge in COVID-19 illnesses. All recent graduates, even if they have not yet taken the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN licensing exams, are needed to work in a variety of nursing roles, and not necessarily with COVID-19 patients. The state has waived license requirements during the emergency proclamation period to allow new nursing grads to work to their full scope of practice immediately upon graduation. This provision enables the nursing workforce to respond to and support the nursing needs as the number of COVID-19 cases has increased. All available nurses, including spring and summer 2020 graduates from a licensed practical nurse (LPN) program, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree program in nursing, and graduate entry program in nursing students (GEPN) who completed their pre-licensure year of education in August 2020, are encouraged to respond to this call for employment by completing the survey [here].
This survey, sponsored by Hawai`i State Center for Nursing, HAH, and Hawai‘i Healthcare Emergency Management, a subsidiary of HAH, will be shared with employers in Hawai`i who will reach out to respondents for employment opportunities.