With a record 355 cases of COVID-19 recorded Thursday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said he’s looking at the possibility of re-establishing the stay-at-home order and delaying the relaunch of trans-Pacific tourism through a pre-travel testing program, set to begin Sept. 1.
“I know that going backwards will cause further harm to our economy but we have always said that the health and safety of our community will be our highest priority,” Ige said in a news conference.
Ige added that he wants to look at a few more days of data before making a decision about whether to push back the pre-travel testing program. He said he’s hoping that restrictions on interisland travel and Oahu bans on gatherings at parks, beaches and trails will have an impact on the numbers.
As for the stay-at-home order, it may be limited to Oahu. Ige said he talked with the neighbor island mayors who expressed a desire keep things status quo in their counties considering how few cases they are seeing.
Ige said health officials are finding numerous clusters of the disease all over Oahu, with COVID-19 not just accelerated by large groups outdoors but by small interactions at the workplace.
“We are headed in the wrong direction,” the governor said. “The prevalence of COVID-19 is expanding in the community.”
Lt. Gov. Josh Green reported the state has a hospital surge occurring now. Hawaii had 75 hospitalizations through Aug. 1. That number has increased to 150.
Of the state’s 244 ICU beds, 137 are currently occupied. COVID patients are using 29% of those beds.
Scott Morishige, the governor’s coordinator on homelessness, said the Institute for Human Services, struck by 20 cases, is transitioning to a quarantine and isolation facility.
Deputy Health Director Danette Wong Tomiyasu said additional staff have been deployed to contact trace. About 100 staffers are working on Oahu this week.