Hope looms on the horizon as COVID-19 vaccinations continue in Hawaii and across the nation, but state-issued directives to keep the pandemic in check remain the same for now.
Gov. David Ige on Friday issued an 18th emergency proclamation acknowledging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines, which no longer require vaccinated individuals to meet certain criteria to quarantine.
But that exception will not yet be formally made for Hawaii-bound travelers.
Ige, in a news release, said the state will wait for specific guidance from the CDC “before implementing a quarantine exception for vaccinated travelers.”
Department of Health officials Friday reported one new coronavirus-related death and 70 new infections, bringing the state’s totals since the start of the pandemic to 425 fatalities and 26,743 cases.
The death on Oahu was a man in his 60s with underlying conditions who had been hospitalized, officials said.
The new cases reported Friday by the department include 33 on Oahu, 25 on Maui, five on Hawaii island and seven residents diagnosed out of state.
Also Friday the governor approved the City and County of Honolulu’s third amended and restated order keeping Oahu within Tier 2, where it has been since October.
Under Tier 2 restrictions, up to five people may dine together inside a restaurant without being from the same household, and personal care services and legal short-term rentals may operate. Additionally, gyms and fitness facilities are allowed to operate indoors at 25% capacity, and indoor physical activity classes are limited to no more than five people and outdoor classes to no more than 10 people. Current rules on face masks and social distancing remain in place.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s order makes no changes to the four-tiered framework for reopening the island’s commercial, social and community activities established by former Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The order goes into effect Monday and will remain in place through at least March 15, unless Oahu’s metrics move it to another tier sooner.
Friday’s seven-day average case count for Oahu was 45, and the seven-day average positivity rate was 1.5%, according to Blan-giardi. In order for Oahu to move to the less restrictive Tier 3, the seven-day average of new cases must be below 50 on two consecutive Wednesdays, and the seven-day average positivity rate must be below 2.5%.
Blangiardi said that while he looks forward to working with Ige and the state Department of Health on further loosening restrictions on certain businesses and operations, there is concern for a surge in COVID-19 cases following Super Bowl weekend.
“The health and safety of everyone in the City and County of Honolulu remains our top priority and I want to move us forward in a way that is deliberate and based on science,” he said in a statement. “Successfully minimizing the spread of this virus during occasions like Super Bowl weekend, Valentine’s Day, and beyond, is the key to getting more of Oahu back to work, school and back in the community activities we desperately need.”
Blangiardi had previously mentioned he hoped to be able to ease restrictions for bar owners as well as for youth team sports outdoors, both of which are allowed only under Tier 4.
As of Thursday, 236,649 COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in the state, according to preliminary DOH statistics. Approximately 10.8% of the population has received at least one dose.
Health officials also reported 1,034 current active cases statewide, 44 fewer than the previous count. By island, Oahu has 738 active cases, Maui has 224, Hawaii island has 66, Kauai has three, Lanai has two and Molokai has one.
Of all the confirmed Hawaii infection cases, 1,779 have required hospitalization, with four new hospitalizations reported Friday by state health officials. Four hospitalizations in the statewide count are Hawaii residents who were diagnosed and treated outside the state.
According to the Hawaii COVID-19 data dashboard, 49 patients with the virus were in Hawaii hospitals as of Thursday morning, with 14 in intensive care units and 12 on ventilators.