Gov. David Ige is troubled by the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases in Hawaii and says that the state could soon face new restrictions, including a statewide shutdown of non-essential businesses.
“We do need to see the number being contained. If it continues to increase during this whole week, then I’m certain that the mayors and I would be looking at further action necessary,” he said. “We all know that a complete shutdown is not something that we want to do because of the impact on our businesses but if the numbers continue to increase then we may have to do that.”
Ige made his comments this morning on Spotlight Hawaii, where he took questions on a number of issues, including reopening transpacific travel, the number of contact tracers in the state, unemployment benefits and the planned start of school on Aug. 17.
Given the lower infection rates on the neighbor islands, Ige said that although the state Department of Education is a statewide system, it is possible that some counties may be able to start school ahead of others.
“We have always been looking at the reopening of school as a county by county possibility,” Ige said. “The virus activity on all of the neighbor island counties continues to be in containment and under control. And yes, it is possible for us to have different policies here on Oahu versus the neighbor island counties.”
He continued that once schools start, if a positive COVID-19 case is detected, that may not necessitate a systemwide shutdown.
“School closures, once they are reopened, can be looked at on a school by school basis, or even a building by building basis when they are looked at in the context of a school,” he said.
Ige said there is no pattern to the recent surge in cases. They come from social gatherings of all kinds, be it in the workplace, potlucks and parties at homes, large gatherings at the beach, or groups at gyms and bars. He emphasized the importance of personal responsibility and the basics that public health officials have been hammering for some time: wear a mask, physically distance yourself from others, stay home if you feel sick, and practice good personal hygiene.
“We can only be successful if we take personal responsibility for reducing the transmission of COVID-19 and that impacts every single aspect of what we do every day,” he said.
Spotlight Hawaii, which shines a light on issues affecting Hawaii, airs live 10:30 a.m. every Monday and Wednesday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Join Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies this month for a conversation about the economy. Click here to watch previous conversations.