Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell today announced a three-week closure of bars on Oahu effective Friday.
Caldwell announced the news today at a press conference amid today’s record triple-digit coronavirus cases. Caldwell said he would reassess after three weeks. The order applies to restaurants too — they are prohibited from selling and serving alcohol after 10 p.m. Businesses found to be in violation after 10 p.m. can be shut down by the liquor commission for 24 hours. Bars violating the order are subject to penalties and fines and will be at risk of losing liquor licenses.
“Everyday for the past almost a week now we have an increasing number of cases. This is a milestone of milestones and not a proud accomplishment,” Caldwell said. “We don’t want to reverse our reopening that we’ve worked so hard on. We don’t want to get to where we’re reporting the number of deaths day by day. This is not about bars, this is about keeping people safe while we see a spiking of cases.”
Bars can remain open for their normal hours tonight before Friday’s closure goes into effect.
The mayor said the temporary closure would help to ensure the Department of Health has the ability to effectively contact trace. It is especially difficult to identify exposures in a bar setting, he said.
“At this point we don’t know who has the virus and who doesn’t have the virus, but we know it’s traveling throughout our community. We see cases popping up everywhere at all types of businesses,” he said. “We’re all at risk at this point in time and strong decisive action needs to be taken so that we can get back to a healthy community so we can have a healthy economy.”
In addition, Caldwell said about 25% of all COVID-19 cases are in the Micronesian community. Pacific Islanders represent just 4% of the state’s population, according to data from the state Department of Health. Whites comprise 20% of cases and make up 25% of the state’s population followed by Filipinos who consist of 19% of cases and represent 16% of the state’s population, according to health officials.
Hawaii hit another triple-digit coronavirus record with 124 new daily cases today — the highest since the start of the pandemic.
The new cases, which include 32 children under age 18, represent 5.8% of the 2,156 tests processed in today’s COVID-19 tally, which climbed to 1,989 total cases statewide since the beginning of the outbreak.
“The disease is surging,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “At this point are only two ways to stop this pandemic in Hawaii — comprehensively trace and test for the disease while limiting our social gatherings to a max of 10 people, or … shut down again completely for two to four weeks and reboot after that. If we don’t act immediately we are going to get crushed.”
Hawaii Department of Health today reported 121 new cases on Oahu, but one of those case had previously been reported as a Hawaii island case, which has been reassigned to Oahu “as a result of updated information,” officials said. Maui also had four new cases today.
Today’s statewide coronavirus case total includes 1,637 on Oahu, 167 in Maui County, 115 on Hawaii island, and 47 in Kauai County, according to health officials. The total also includes 23 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside of the state.
As of today, 737 infections in Hawaii are active cases, with a total of 1,226 patients now classified by health officials as “released from isolation,” or 62% of those infected. Eleven new release cases were reported today. The category counts those infected people who have met the criteria for being released from isolation.
The new daily cases surpassed Wednesday’s tally of 109 new infections — 6.6% of the total 1,653 tests administered — and the first time the number of daily cases reached triple digits, prompting government leaders to consider tighter restrictions on activities that might lead to the spread of the virus.
State and county officials are considering reinstating the 14-day quarantine for interisland travel, as well as closing Oahu bars for three weeks, requiring masks be worn indoors and outdoors and limiting social gatherings to 10 people or fewer.
The spike in daily cases began last week with 55 new infections on Thursday, 60 on Friday, 73 on Saturday and 64 on Sunday.
The state’s coronavirus death toll remains at 26 — 19 on Oahu, six on Maui and one Kauai resident who died outside the state. Meanwhile, the nationwide COVID-19 death count topped 150,000.
Of all the confirmed Hawaii cases since the start of the outbreak, 177 have required hospitalizations, with four new hospitalizations reported on Oahu today, health officials said.
Two hospitalizations in the statewide count are Hawaii residents who were diagnosed and treated outside the state. Of the 175 hospitalizations within the state, 144 have been on Oahu, 26 on Maui, four on Hawaii island, and one on Kauai. By county, Honolulu has seen 944 patients released from isolation, and Maui has had 125 patients released.Hawaii island has one active infection, while Kauai County has four.
Of the 121,368 coronavirus tests conducted so far by state and clinical laboratories in Hawaii, about 1.6% have been positive.
“Remember 10% of all confirmed cases end up hospitalized two to three weeks later, so I anticipate there will be terrible suffering if we don’t knock the virus back now,” Green said.