Gov. David Ige, the four county mayors and police leaders today urged Hawaii residents to abide by current gathering rules under COVID-19 emergency measures this Labor Day weekend to avoid putting more pressure on stressed hospitals.
“Today we stand united in pledging to devote state and county resources to enforcing our emergency measures especially over this long Labor Day weekend.” said Ige during an afternoon news conference.
All county law enforcement officers will be out in full force this weekend, ready to take action.
“Because of COVID, the hospital systems across the state are in danger of moving toward the worst case scenario,” said Ige. “If that happens, we have heard from our health care leaders that people may not receive the care that they need and certainly some may die.”
The Hawaii Department of Health today reported seven new coronavirus-related deaths and 865 new infections statewide, bringing the state’s totals since the start of the pandemic to 613 fatalities and 65,890 cases. The 7-day average of daily new cases is at a 867, and the positivity rate at 7.5%.
A total of 448 COVID-19 patients are in state hospitals, according to the COVID-19 dashboard, edging closer to 500, which has been cited as the “breaking point.”
“Our choices today and over this weekend can help prevent the worst case scenario for our health care system,” said Ige, “so please act responsibly this holiday weekend and moving forward as we battle this highly transmissible COVID-19 delta variant. Do it for the sake of your family, our community, and the state.”
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi echoed Ige’s statement, saying “our primary concern is to take the pressure off the hospitals.”
“Now is not a time to be casual,” he said. “You’re going get today from us a collective urging for all of us to use common sense, to be respectful, and to understand the reality of the moment. This is a place we’ve never been in before and we need to pay attention to that. We need to take care of each other in ways we haven’t even done before.”
This is not a time for individualism, he added, saying “you have no right to go out there and harm other people by virtually being infected and infecting other people.”
Under current Honolulu County emergency rules, gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.
Blangiardi has also issued a new order that makes any violation of emergency rules subject to a $250 fine, with an emphasis on those who gather in large groups and fail to wear masks indoors.
“We are doing everything we can to keep our community safe and healthy by trying to prevent the rising COVID-19 case counts,” said Blangiardi in a follow-up news release. “The hospitalization rates are still extremely high and tragically people are dying. We need everyone’s help to fight this deadly virus by using caution and avoiding large gatherings. However, if you choose not to follow the law, please know we will enforce the orders intended to protect everyone, so we will be ticketing any and all people participating in large gatherings this weekend.”
Honolulu interim Police Chief Rade Vanic said additional officers will be out this weekend, actively checking beach parks, and responding to calls about gatherings at indoor locations that exceed the limits.
Officers are not looking to give out citations, but will if they have to this weekend.
“We really do want voluntary compliance,” he said.
Also, police will be setting up DUI checkpoints throughout the state this weekend, and are urging people not to drink and drive.
Speakers at today’s conference also included Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth, The Queen’s Health Systems President and CEO Jill Hoggard Green, Kauai Assistant Police Chief Mark Begley, Maui Acting Police Chief Dean Rickard and Hawaii County Deputy Police Chief Kenneth Bugado.
Ige also recorded a video message, urging responsible behavior this Labor Day weekend.