As the parade of triple- digit coronavirus case counts continued Friday, a statewide survey has detected a growing frustration among Hawaii residents about the way the pandemic is being managed.
The survey, completed earlier this month by Honolulu-based SMS Research & Marketing Service Inc., also found an increasing number of people concerned about themselves or someone in their family getting sick.
On Friday, state health officials reported 230 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the statewide total to 6,072 infections since the pandemic landed in Hawaii in late February.
They also reported another virus-related death. No information was released about the victim, the sixth fatality in the past five days. The statewide death toll has now reached 46.
“This is a time when we must, must, must be careful about any gatherings,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green told his social media following Friday. “Please do not gather. Please wear a mask. That will stop the virus.”
Green, an emergency room physician from Hawaii island, said he’s concerned about a rising tide of COVID-19 patients and how much it will strain the state’s hospitals in the coming days.
There are nearly 4,000 active cases in Hawaii, and the weekly rate of positive cases continues to hover between 7% and 10%, which exceeds the World Health Organization recommendation that positivity rates be under 5% for 14 days.
“It’s critically important that we keep our numbers lower than they’ve been for the last 10 days, two weeks.” Green said. “The active number of cases is simply too high.”
In Hilo, eight employees of Ka ‘Umeke Ka’eo charter school tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement posted on the school’s website Friday.
The school was closed, the statement said, and testing and contact tracing by the state Department of Health will be ongoing.
Hawaii state and county leaders have come under increasing criticism for their handling of the pandemic — from not having enough contact tracers to not being transparent enough with its data.
The SMS Community Pulse Survey — the latest of three surveys that date back to May — shows an erosion in the percentage of the general public who believe government’s management of the pandemic is moving in the right direction.
In the first survey, 64% said government was doing a good job. Now, that number is down to 45%.
In addition, 43% of Oahu residents say they want an immediate change in the policies that discourage tourists.
The survey elsewhere found four out of five Hawaii adults either “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about themselves or someone in their family getting sick with COVID-19. The “very concerned” response increased 13 percentage points over the last survey.
Gov. David Ige and other top officials have said Hawaii let its guard down after the kamaaina economy opened in June, allowing the virus to spread.
According to the survey, Hawaii was indeed more active in July and early August, with more residents saying they dined, shopped, got haircuts and kept in shape at the gym than in previous surveys.
But islanders were pretty good about taking personal measures against the disease. Some 97% of those surveyed said they were careful to maintain a 6-foot distance outside their home, while 96% said they wore masks and 74% said they avoided groups larger than 10.
For the survey, 404 people were polled across the state, resulting in a 5% margin of error at a 95% confidence level. SMS said the data was balanced to reflect the adult population of the state using the 2018 U.S Census Data.
Meanwhile, a hui of kumu hula is taking matters into its own hands in response to the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases affecting the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community.
The practitioners agreed to a 30-day “Lahui Kanaka,” or time of kapu, focusing on health and well-being to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The kumu and their students have redoubled their efforts to practice anti-virus measures such as staying home, limiting gatherings and wearing masks, among other things, they said.
The effort began Aug. 16 with the rising of the Mauli moon and continues for three 10-day periods until the next Mauli moon Sept. 14, said Mehanaokala Hind, one of the organizers.
“We no longer can rely on anyone else to help us control the spread in our communities” Hind said in a statement. “We need to look to our culture to help us get through this.”
• 227 current (confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases)
• 120 occupied / 244 total
• 49% in use
• 44 in use by COVID-19 patients
• 64 occupied / 459 total
• 14% in use
• 23 in use by COVID-19 patients
• 173,550 total
• 2,366 batch*
* Batch refers to how many test results were counted on Friday.
Source: Lt. Gov. Josh Green