Noting Hawaii’s first confirmed death from coronavirus, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell this afternoon emphasized the importance of everyone following state and county “stay-at-home” orders during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It needs to be taken extremely seriously,” said Caldwell during a press conference this afternoon. “If we stay at home and work from home, if we do what we’re supposed to do, we can flatten this curve and make sure we don’t exceed the ICUs.”
The state today reported 20 new cases, including its first coronavirus death as total confirmed cases rose to 224.
Still, Caldwell noted with frustration that hundreds of visitors to Hawaii continue to come, placing a burden on state and county resources.
Among recent arrivals, Caldwell noted there were three homeless individuals who arrived in Hawaii, and needed to be quarantined at a shelter. A family of four visitors also arrived in Hawaii, with no hotel reservations in place.
Caldwell said he would be writing a letter to President Donald Trump requesting that all non-essential travel to Hawaii be halted. He is asking Gov. David Ige and fellow county mayors to join him in sending the letter. He said the letter was under review by Ige.
Ige’s mandate of a 14-day, self-quarantine for interisland travelers begins Wednesday.
“Only Trump can stop all non-essential travel to Hawaii,” said Caldwell. “No one. Absolutely no one should be coming to Hawaii for vacation at this point. If you do, you put an incredible burden even very small in numbers on the very people who need to focus on protecting and helping us local folks.”
Caldwell said he had no idea whether Trump would respond to the letter, but that it would send a strong message to travelers thinking of taking advantage of deals to vacation in Hawaii during this pandemic that this is not a good time to do so.
In addition, Caldwell said he is asking all private golf courses and sports facilities close their doors to comply with the “stay-at-home” orders, in line with public parks and venues. He is also extending orders that bars and restaurants on Oahu continue with takeout and delivery services through April 30.
Starting Wednesday, TheBus runs on a state holiday schedule during weekdays.
Caldwell said he intends to offer more testing for the novel coronavirus this weekend on all parts of Oahu, including Waianae, Haleiwa, Waimanalo and Hauula.
“It’s critical to find out who may have COVID-19, where it’s occurring,” he said. “It can then help us be more disciplined in how we practice social distancing and everyone comes into greater compliance.”
With everyone’s cooperation, Caldwell said the state can flatten the curve.
Both Caldwell and Honolulu Police Department Chief Susan Ballard expressed their strong opposition to the proposed release of more than 400 inmates from prison, as recommended by the Hawaii public defender.
Caldwell said a decision like that should have input from city prosecutors as well as HPD, particularly to keep the community safe during challenging times.
Ballard reassured the public that HPD is out on the road and offering all services to the public. She agreed with the mayor that the inmates should not be released during the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s no reason in our minds anybody should be released out into the community,” said Ballard, noting people are already full of fear and anxiety. “I don’t think we want to put the community through that.”
Officers have been out enforcing the mayor’s “stay-at-home/work-from-home” proclamation, she noted, but are not setting up road blocks to check that individuals are essential workers or looking for letters of confirmation. Most who are violating the proclamation are issued a warning first.
“They don’t need a letter,” she said. “Just let the officer know why you are out and what function you’re doing and that’s enough.”
To quell these rumors, she said HPD would be beefing up its social media presence.
To date, 18 HPD officers have been tested for COVID-19. A total of 14 tested negative, two positive and another two are pending. The two that tested positive are at home and recovering and doing well.
During these times, there has been an increase in speeding, Ballard noted, due to less traffic and open roads. She noted, however, that robberies were down due to more people being at home, and said there was no increase in domestic violence.
“We’re just asking people to please slow down,” she said.
Watch the video above.