Doctors, Health Professionals Urge Closure of Non-Essential Businesses

March 18, 2020, 12:55 PM HST (Updated March 18, 2020, 12:55 PM)
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Ninety-four local doctors and health professionals urged Gov. David Ige to immediately take more decisive action to limit the spread of COVID-19, including closing all non-essential businesses and asking everyone to stay home.

“Our Governor’s actions yesterday were a start, but not enough,” said Deborah Zysman, Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network. “Governor Ige must mandate extreme social distancing measures before the spread worsens.”

According to Jessica Yamauchi, Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute, “Hawai‘i is fortunate to have a relatively small number of patients right now, but this number will continue to increase. We recently saw our first confirmed case of community spread; if we wait to act until the situation gets worse, it will be too late.”

Extreme social distancing measures must be put in place before the spread worsens. The health and medical community’s recommendations include:

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• For families: Everyone should stay home. Travel and social events should be postponed or canceled.

• For workers and businesses: All non-essential businesses should be closed. All non-essential government employees should also be sent home. Only take-out should be allowed from restaurants; bars and other entertainment venues should close. Those who cannot go to work should be able to receive paid leave or Unemployment Insurance.

• For visitors: Everyone entering the state should be screened. The state should develop protocols for those exhibiting symptoms and provide hand sanitizer to passengers. The same restrictions for local families should apply to visitors.

• For the medical community: The state should ensure it has adequate facilities for those affected by COVID-19. Testing should be free and easier to access by waiving the requirement for a primary care physician order.

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