(BIVN) – Hawaiʻi State and County officials are pleading with the public to act responsibly during the Labor Day weekend, in order to curb the Delta variant-driven surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
Governor David Ige held a news conference today, where he encouraged residents to “act responsibly this holiday weekend.”
“Because of COVID, the hospital system across the state is in danger of moving towards the worst-case scenario,” Governor Ige said. “If that happens, we have heard from our health care leaders that people may not receive the care that they need, and certainly some may die. Our choices today, and over this weekend, can help prevent the worst-case scenario for our health care system.”
The governor was joined at the press conference by Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and Jill Hoggard Green, PhD, RN, president & CEO of The Queen’s Health Systems. Via video conference, Kauaʻi Mayor Derek Kawakami, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino, and Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth also participated in the media briefing.
A model presented to a Hawaiʻi State Senate Committee on COVID-19 today by the Hawaiʻi Pandemic Applied Modeling Work Group “suggests that the need for total hospitalizations will likely surpass 500 in Honolulu”
by September 13.
Officials are urging residents to get vaccinated, and are also encouraging these additional steps be taken over the long holiday weekend:
- Avoid closed spaces with poor ventilation
- Avoid crowded places with many people nearby and
- Avoid close-contact settings, such as close-range conversations
The State says you can also reduce your risk of getting sick by:
- Setting your own curfews
- Avoiding activities that could lead to exposure and illness — or increase your risk of trauma
- Getting tested a few days after you arrive in Hawaiʻi if you’ve traveled
UPDATE – (5 p.m.) – The State of Hawaiʻi also announced today that it has secured liquid oxygen supply lines to meet increased hospital demand. From a news release:
The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) has taken steps to secure a consistent supply of liquid oxygen (O2) from the mainland to the state of Hawaiʻi in order to meet the increased demands brought upon by the recent COVID-19 case count surge. Working in coordination with state partners, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Matson Shipping, and medical gas producers AirLiquide (AirGas) and Matheson Tri-Gas, an expedited sea lift has been organized and is currently underway departing from the Port of Los Angeles.
Two ISO (International Organization of Standardization) containers suitable to transport medical grade oxygen, containing approximately 3,500 gallons, are expected at the Port of Honolulu by Sunday, 9/5/21. Another two ISO containers are scheduled for arrival by Wednesday, 9/8/21. Depleted containers will be flown back to the mainland for refilling before shipping back to Hawaiʻi, creating a rotating supply for use across the state.
Additional ISO containers are being sought for lease, procurement, or retrofitting for medical grade O2, and other oxygen generators are being pursued in order to expand this rotation of a critical resource. Local gas producing facilities have also enhanced their output of liquid oxygen to fortify the supply available in the state. Additional conservation efforts by hospitals and medical facilities across the state, mandated by Governor Ige’s Executive Order (No. 21-06), have made immediate impacts to the current daily consumption statewide for medical grade oxygen, which is 99% pure, and which has increased approximately 250% since the beginning of August.
The demands on our medical system brought about by the spread of this virus are unprecedented and put a severe strain on capabilities to treat all patients. The Delta variant is a very different strain of the coronavirus and significantly more transmissible. Activities during extended holiday weekends, such as this upcoming Labor Day, also impact the capacities and resources of our hospitals. This is a preventable situation.
It is up to all of us, individually, to behave responsibly in our actions and help mitigate the stress to our medical facilities and protect our ʻohana.