Lt. Gov. Josh Green is calling for the suspension of all non-essential travel to Hawaii and the closure of all businesses and schools until April 30 to prevent a mass outbreak of the coronavirus in the islands.
Green, who is also a practicing emergency room doctor on the Big Island and leading community efforts for widespread testing, said the state should also mandate a two-week quarantine for anyone entering Hawaii, “contact test” every positive case and completely isolate them and begin screening all passengers at local airports.
Health officials must study the states that are two to four weeks ahead of us, and stand up extra hospital capacity “the second we see it could help,” while ordering millions of masks and swabs, he said.
“Every second they approximate Europe we get closer to a mass fatality in Hawaii,” Green told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Meanwhile, nearly 100 Hawaii doctors and medical providers signed a petition imploring Gov. David Ige to mandate the shutdown of all non-essential businesses and order residents to stay home to stop the rapidly spreading virus.
In an unprecedented move Tuesday, Ige asked all visitors to Hawaii to postpone their trips for the next 30 days and launched a 15-day campaign to “slow the spread of COVID-19,” which has infected at least 16 people in the islands.
The governor, acknowledging the importance of aggressive action to stop community transmission, directed all bars and clubs to shut down and all restaurants to close their dining rooms and shift to takeout, drive-thru or delivery service only. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued an emergency proclamation Wednesday ordering Oahu restaurants and bars to make the drastic shift by 8:30 a.m. Friday. On Wednesday, some businesses were still operating as normal.
The government is asking the public to limit social gatherings to groups of 10 people or less and directing theaters, entertainment centers, visitor attractions and places of worship to suspend all services and activities.
That’s because Hawaii hospitals could be under tremendous strain as more patients diagnosed with the new coronavirus and other serious medical conditions inundate medical facilities. If too many people get sick at once, authorities warn Hawaii’s health care system could collapse, meaning not everyone may receive treatment. There are also global shortages of personal protective equipment that health care workers use to keep from contracting contagious diseases and a finite amount of medical supplies.
Ige spokeswoman Cindy McMillan reiterated Thursday a previous statement that the state “can expect more stringent measures to be introduced.”
“And we want to assure everyone that any direction or mandates made will be based on facts and what’s best for our communities,” she said.