The number of COVID-19 cases climbed to another triple-digit record on Oahu Wednesday, placing further pressure on Gov. David Ige and other top officials to impose tighter restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease.
The 173 cases — all on Oahu — represent a single-day record for Hawaii if you don’t count Monday’s total of 207 cases, 114 of which were the result of delayed reporting from the weekend.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green on Wednesday said he wouldn’t be surprised if the governor called for “a significant lockdown on activities,” at least on Oahu, for up to four weeks.
Green told Hawaii’s Maleko and Flash Podcast that it would be a wise move to tamp down the disease through two 14-day cycles to bring down caseloads to reasonable levels again.
Contacted by the Star-Advertiser afterward, Green said, “The mayor and the governor are working through a decision on how much more restrictions are needed” and “are considering what to do for the next 30 days.”
A spokesperson for Ige said the governor had no comment on Green’s remarks.
But a news release from the state’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center said “the escalating disease rate may potentially require the state to resume tighter controls and restrictions to prevent the spread of the disease.”
The release also said that with the “rate of rise in cases and the lack of enforcement of restrictions,” officials expect the number of cases to keep rising “until there is consistent, community-wide adherence to safe practices.”
Meanwhile, a growing number of institutions and activities are announcing shutdowns on their own.
Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald on Wednesday ordered all jury trials postponed until after Oct. 2 in response to the “concerning spike” in COVID-19 cases.
Also on Wednesday, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association postponed the fall sports season to January, and the University of Hawaii announced it would have a 10-game football schedule rather than the 13 games it originally planned. The move was prompted in part by an adjusted schedule announced by the Mountain West Conference for its members in response to COVID-19 concerns.
Elsewhere, a petition calling for canceling the 2020 Rim of the Pacific naval exercises was delivered to Ige’s office.
The Cancel RIMPAC Coalition delivered a petition Wednesday with over 12,000 signatures from Hawaii and nations participating in the world’s largest naval exercises, the group said.
The mammoth military exercises are still scheduled for Hawaii waters August 17-31, but coalition leaders said it would be reckless to allow them to continue given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the islands.
The U.S. cruise industry on Wednesday announced that it is extending its suspension of operations through October. The Cruise Lines International Association, which represents more than 50 companies and 95% of oceangoing cruise capacity, said Wednesday that if conditions in the U.S. change, it would consider allowing short, modified sailings.
Hawaii health officials on Wednesday counted 2,383 new tests, with the 173 positive cases representing about 7.3% of the total tested.
Of the 134,909 coronavirus tests conducted so far by state and clinical laboratories in Hawaii since the start of the outbreak, nearly 2% have been positive. But positive test rates have been significantly higher in the last week, including nearly 8% on Tuesday.
Six new coronavirus hospitalizations were reported on Oahu Wednesday. Overall, 83 people are in the hospital with COVID-19, including 15 in intensive care units and 13 on ventilators, officials said.
In other COVID-19 developments:
>> A deputy sheriff for the state Department of Public Safety tested positive, the first department employee confirmed to have the virus. The deputy works in the Sheriff Division Special Operations Section, and its building on Keawe Street in Honolulu was closed as a precautionary measure through today for cleaning.
>> A Hawaii County fire battalion chief at the Waikoloa Fire Station tested positive. He is one of five Hawaii County fire personnel who have tested positive and are currently under self-quarantine. The station has been disinfected, the department said.
>> Kona Community Hospital confirmed that two incoming traveling employees — a doctor and a nurse — tested positive. Both traveling employees were diagnosed prior to beginning work in the hospital, and are now quarantined at home, according to the hospital.
>> Restaurant Suntory at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center has temporarily closed after one of its employees tested positive. Every employee will undergo testing, according to the restaurant’s management, and it will reopen only after receiving “a full clearance” from the Health Department.
>> The Honolulu Club on Ward Avenue is expected to reopen this morning after a staff member tested positive. The entire club has been disinfected, according to a posting on the facility’s website, and all staff members are being tested.
>> Further testing of Arcadia nursing home staff members revealed one additional positive case, the home said Wednesday. Further testing of employees found that all results were negative, and contact tracing revealed no exposure to residents. A third and final round of testing for all dining services employees will be conducted.
Star-Advertiser staff writer Allison Schaefers contributed to this story.