Quick overview and detailed information regarding newly instituted restrictions on Oahu
Yesterday, Governor Ige and Mayor Caldwell presented Honolulu County’s 28-day social gathering order. The following is both a quick overview of the order and a detailed review of their joint press conference.
Summary of Governor Ige’s Press Conference provided
by the Hawaii Tourism Authority:
Press Conference with Governor David Ige
August 18, 2020
About: COVID-19 update with Governor David Ige, City and County of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, and Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson.
— We cannot deny that Hawaii is seeing a surge of cases.
— Today there was an additional 134 new cases reported by the Department of Health (DOH).
— Most of the cases are on Oahu and as we have seen the increase, Mayor Caldwell and I have been working together and talking about reinstituting the restrictions that we believe are important to improve the health and safety of our community.
— We have agreed that we need to replace some restrictions on Oahu. The targeted adjustments will be effective midnight [tonight], August 19, and run for 28 days.
— I want to make it clear that the neighbor islands continue in the ‘Act with Care’ phase of their reopening plans. They have not seen the increased counts like we see on Oahu.
— We had planned to begin the pre-travel testing program on September 1. I am announcing today that we are delaying the start of the pre-travel testing. It will not begin until October 1 at the earliest.
— We will continue to monitor the conditions here in Hawaii as well as key markets on the mainland to determine the appropriate start date for the pre-travel testing program. We will be making that announcement in time so that the hospitality industry would have the time they need to staff up and begin to support the pre-travel testing program.
— The neighbor island 14-day quarantine continues to remain in effect.
MAYOR KIRK CALDWELL
— We just submitted to the Governor a new emergency order titled ‘Act Now Honolulu: No Social Gatherings’.
— Bottom line, the requirement is if you can work from home we want you to work from home.
— Effective tomorrow at midnight for 28 days there can be no social gatherings, indoors or outdoors, on the island of Oahu. By that, we mean no parties larger than five coming together, whether it be in a private or public setting – in your home, inviting neighbors over, no social gatherings.
— Shopping malls – face coverings are going to be required now in the mall, whether the mall is enclosed or not.
— For in-person spiritual services face coverings are now mandated. You can have no singing and no wind instruments being played. At all times during the service, face coverings are required and no singing is allowed.
— In restaurants you can have no groups larger than five at a table, bringing it down from the ten requirements in the past.
— For outdoor attractions like zoos, Sea Life Park, water parks, recreational and commercial boating, no gatherings larger than five, no groups larger than five.
— In business offices, all social gatherings are prohibited. We want all common areas for eating closed other than going to heat up your food, but not open for people to come in and have lunch.
— We are asking that businesses around this island reduce the number of employees in offices on a daily basis by either encouraging telecommuting, working from home, or staggered work schedules so there is not as many people in one place at one time.
— For museums and movie theaters, limit groups to five or less.
— Beaches remain closed, parks remain closed, trails remain closed, bars remain closed.
— What is open with these limits? Restaurants, retail, spiritual services, offices, fitness centers, personal services, child care, education, health care, auto dealerships, and real estate.
BRUCE ANDERSON, DIRECTOR, HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
— The census is leveling off. We have not seen the increases we saw last week.
— I am told we are not at a crisis level at this point.
— Even with the surge of cases, we still have the lowest death rate per capita.
— We are doing okay on the personal protective equipment (PPE) front.
— I believe the City and County’s restrictions announced today will go a long way to ensure the case numbers drop.
— It will probably be a week or more before we see what has happened when Mayor Caldwell announced the previous order and of course today’s announcement to further restrict those gatherings. It was the gatherings that were probably the most problematic.
— Many of the cases investigated today were people who attended gatherings and then proceeded to work while ill.
— The DOH will continue to focus our activities on those who are most vulnerable such as the kupuna and those with underlying health conditions, and we will continue to work with the counties in supporting outreach to those most affected by COVID-19.
Q: Why not hire as many contact tracers as you can with the CARES money available?
BRUCE ANDERSON, DIRECTOR, HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
— Contact tracing works really well when you have few cases, it doesn’t work well when you have community-wide spread.
— Having said that, we are increasing the number of contact tracers and bringing on new people every day.
— Today we have over 100 staff working on Oahu to investigate cases this week. We have 76 individuals working on contact tracing here on Oahu, 9 additional staff providing supervision and other support, 15 additional contact tracers in case investigation staff were working through last weekend and providing relief to other staff who are stressed, and we have additional staff and teams located on Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Island.
— The National Guard has been helpful. This consists of 7 three-person teams, or 21 full-time individuals.
— We are onboarding about 20 new contact tracers hired through the University of Hawaii training program.
Q: What is your response to the House COVID-19 Committee yesterday calling for more oversight to the state’s response effort? When will we see the data metrics?
— I have directed the department to provide the data they have available.
— Some of the data metrics we don’t capture, and we would have to identify the source of data and put it into a form that can be distributed. Some of the data they are already capturing might require calculations and taking data from different sources and putting them out and publishing the statistics.
— The directive is to make the data available as soon as its available and then work to deliver the data on a consistent basis.
Q: There are hotels on Maui that have quoted the idea of welcoming travel bubbles or geofencing on their properties. Is this something they would need your approval for?
— We are looking at and exploring all options to safely bring trans-Pacific travelers to the islands.
— We did announce the pre-travel testing program that we continue to move forward on.
— I have been working with the mayors in all counties to identify additional ways we can bring travelers back more quickly.
— And the whole notion of geofencing on all properties, we are discussing in all of the counties.
— It would require the appropriate kind of facilities. We would want to make sure that the properties will take responsibility for the quarantine of individuals who would be arriving and staying on their properties and they would have the ability to manage the visitors and keep them separated from the resident population so we would minimize any opportunity to spread the virus. They would be responsible – if the traveler begins to experience symptoms they would have access to healthcare and eventually if they were to be COVID positive they would go into isolation within the properties that choose to participate.
— We are working with the industry, counties, and government to see if there are ways we can bring back trans-Pacific travelers and keep our community healthy and safe.
Q: Will there be any changes to modify quarantine orders extended for those arriving for the 75th anniversary of the ending of World War II and any concerns on the 50 or so veterans traveling to Hawaii for this event? Will this event be allowed to continue?
— A lot of the planning for this event has occurred before the current situation. I have directed the state team to look at the restrictions that we are seeing and ensure that we can limit the activities.
— We have expressed and asked the organizer to inform those veterans that have previously committed to traveling to the islands to make them aware of what our situation is here.
— We would be taking the precautions that we can but encouraging them to look at the situation and make decisions based on the best interest of the veterans.
Q: What is the acceptable number of cases per day for Oahu’s restrictions to ease and possibly reopen interisland travel without quarantine?
— Dr. Park has been developing metrics to help guide that and looking at different measures.
— We are looking at the average over a seven-day period of the new cases and trying to establish metrics that we believe can be used to make decisions appropriately on the interisland quarantine.
— As we publish those we will inform the public.
— We don’t have any specific bright line of what that metric will look like.
— Making the decision for quarantine or further restrictions is complex. We look at the healthcare system and response, and the utilization in our healthcare facilities.
Q: What is your rationale for closing outdoor spaces that are not associated with the spread?
MAYOR KIRK CALDWELL
— What we have done is try to control unregulated large outdoor gatherings. Gatherings outdoors where there are no regulations in place, we tried to shut those down to try to prevent further community spread.
Q: Will there be tougher enforcement on these new restrictions?
MAYOR KIRK CALDWELL
— We need to take some of the burden [from the police department] and comply with the orders in place – wearing face coverings, not gathering in groups of more than five – to make their job easier and in doing so, we will be healthier as a community.