Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green is advocating for a statewide mask mandate, which he said would clear up confusion about what is and is not allowed, and significantly curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“I think a mask mandate for us should be very simple. It should be like the jaywalking laws. You’re not wearing a mask outdoors, you get a $100 fine. That’s it. And that will make sure everyone is wearing a mask through the end of the year at least,” Green said this morning on “Spotlight Hawaii.”
“If we can get up to 95% mask wearing rates, even over 90%, but over 95% has been the evidence across the globe, you see very steep decreases in COVID spread. Until we do that, until we get people to buy into that, until we can express that to travelers very clearly, it’s gonna be hard to stop spread,” he explained.
Green said the pre-travel testing program is going well, with the vast majority of visitors and returning residents opting to show proof a negative coronavirus test 72 hours before arrival to bypass the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine.
As of midnight Sunday, since the state reopened transpacific travel 12 days ago, 59,035 visitors and 29,135 returning residents have come to the islands. The state is conducting limited surveillance testing of those returning, which so far has shown very few testing positive for COVID-19.
“We’ve done over 9,000 tests and we’ve had five positives. So the rate of travelers coming in is far lower than our own local rate of COVID,” he said.
“I hope people will understand this. Far lower with the pre-test, tiny numbers, versus our own base rate, which is higher, where we’re seeing hundreds of cases in clusters. If we’re smart we’ll be testing the clusters, we’ll be testing close contacts. If we’re stupid, we’ll test massively and get low yields. So we have to learn,” Green said.
“It’s so easy for people to point the finger elsewhere … really what we have to do is just be responsible, like every community across the country to prevent spread. That’s why we should always be talking about masks and not secondary tests.”
Green said calls for widespread secondary testing are misguided, and that the focus should be on getting everyone, residents and tourists alike, to wear a mask.
“If we spent this much energy on mask wearing, we wouldn’t have a pandemic here. We just wouldn’t.”
Spotlight Hawaii, which shines a light on issues affecting Hawaii, airs live 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Join Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies this month for a conversation with guests. Click here to watch previous conversations.