Noting Hawaii’s first COVID-19-related death, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Tuesday 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 news conference Tuesday afternoon. “If we stay at home and work at home … if we do what we’re supposed to do, we can flatten this curve and make sure we don’t exceed the number of (intensive care) units and we save lives, particularly our kupuna.”
The state Tuesday reported its first coronavirus death as 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 Honolulu and needed to be quarantined at a shelter. A family of four visitors also arrived on Oahu, with no hotel reservations in place.
Caldwell said he would write a letter to President Donald Trump requesting that all nonessential travel to Hawaii be prohibited. 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 today.
“Only Trump can stop all nonessential 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 vacation deals in Hawaii during this pandemic, and that this is not a good time to do so.
In addition, Caldwell said he is asking all private golf courses to close their doors to comply with the “stay-at-home” orders, effective at 4:30 p.m. today, in line with public parks and venues. He is also extending his order that bars and restaurants on Oahu continue with takeout and delivery services only — originally through the first week of April — until the end of April.
These orders could continue for longer, he noted.
Starting today, TheBus runs on a state holiday schedule during weekdays to adapt to the drop in ridership.
Caldwell said he intends to offer more mass testing for the novel coronavirus this weekend, and would like to extend them to all parts of Oahu eventually, including Waianae, Haleiwa, Hawaii Kai, 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.”
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard reassured the public that officers are out and offering all services to the public.
Officers have been enforcing the mayor’s “stay-at-home/work-from-home” proclamation, she noted, but are not setting up roadblocks to check that individuals are essential workers or looking for letters of confirmation. Most who are violating the proclamation are issued a warning.
“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 increase its social media presence.
To date, 18 HPD officers have been tested for COVID-19. Fourteen tested negative, two positive and another two are pending. The two that tested positive are at home recovering and doing well, Ballard said.
During these times there has been an increase in speeding, Ballard noted, due to less traffic and open roads.
“We’re just asking people to please slow down,” she said.
Caldwell said in addition to travelers, there were still residents not taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously, noting there have been large parties in West Oahu. He urged everyone once again to cooperate so the state can flatten the curve to avoid overwhelming ICUs at local hospitals.