Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Ige Looking at Extending Safer-at-Home Order

May 15, 2020, 6:30 AM HST
* Updated May 15, 7:35 AM
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Gov. David announced he was looking at extending the safer-at-home mandate until June 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic during his Facebook Live Thursday afternoon.

“Ive told the mayors my intention is to extend safer-at-home through the end of June,” Ige said. “Certainly we will be extending the 14-day quarantine for those traveling to our state.”

Ige is also looking at medium-risk businesses as part of the next round of businesses to reopen. Those businesses include dining at restaurants, salons, barber shops and spas. He said he is working with the mayors on how to move forward in that regard. The state is also looking at CDC guidelines on how to keep people safe in those settings.

“The only reason we’re able to consider reopening our economy is because of everyone’s efforts (social distancing, wearing face masks and staying at home),” Ige said.

During the safer-at-home phase, Ige is encouraging residents to patronize businesses, but then return home.

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“You are truly safer at home,” he said.

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Ige encourages everyone to act as though they have COVID-19. When out in public or interacting with others, wear a mask.

The decisions to reopen businesses, Ige said, is based on health data. The three specific points the state is looking at for guidance in the economic reopening is: the number of cases, capacity within the Hawai‘i health care system to treat COVID-19 cases and adequate ability to test and do contact tracing.

“This is a team sport, and we can only be successful if we do our part,” Ige said. “It is about staying home if you’re ill.”

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The state has the capacity to test 3,000 tests per day. On Thursday, Ige said, 500 to 1,000 people are tested per day.

“We’re not even using a third of what our testing capacity is,” he said.

The state also has plans to increase work force in contact tracing. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, said during the Facebook Live that the state is working the University of Hawai‘i systems to have a training program in place that will hopefully launch within the next few weeks.

There will be two phases in the training process. The first will be for individuals who already have the appropriate health care background. Training can be done within a few days. The second phase is for training individuals with limited to no health care background. Training will take two to three months.

“By the end of it all, we could have 200 to 300 people to surge the work force to do contact tracing or monitoring of people,” Park said.

However, if the disease activity continues the way it is, Park said, they may not need all those contact tracers.

Gatherings are still limited to family members. The reason for this, Ige said, is to suppress coronavirus case numbers.

“We are looking at when to allow gatherings, but we are reluctant to do that until further along,” he said.

The Hawai‘i Department of Health reported no new cases on Thursday, with the overall positive case number remaining at 637. For the past three weeks, the state has seen six cases or less per day.

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