Ige in Talks With Mayors About Reinstating Gathering Restrictions

July 29, 2020, 2:58 PM HST (Updated July 29, 2020, 2:58 PM)
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Governor David Ige. PC: State of Hawaii

Gov. David Ige is looking at reinstating some restrictions due to the spike in COVID-19 cases statewide.

The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) reported 109 new cases on Wednesday, making it the highest single-day case count since the pandemic began. During a press conference this afternoon, Ige said he’s asked the county mayors to look at restricting gathering sizes, the closing of bars and restricting gathering sizes at beaches and parks.

“I’m very concerned about this surge in cases,” Ige said. “I think we all are.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has already proposed closing bars on O‘ahu for three weeks after a cluster of cases was tied to two establishments. Kaua‘i County already rolled back its indoor gathering restrictions from 50 back to 10 people.

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Health officials began seeing an upward trend in infections around the Fourth of July weekend. Clusters of the virus have been tied to birthday parties, funeral services, bars and gatherings at beach parks.

Ige is proposing to county mayors that they look at closing bars and go back to the gathering restriction of 10 people or less. Schools are exempt from this because of the controlled environment and safe practices being implemented, the governor explained.

Ige emphasized the importance of wearing a face mask, practicing six feet of social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

“We are all responsible for the actions we take,” Ige said. “We know that we can only be successful in fighting COVID-19 as a community.”

While the surge is disheartening, the state continues to have adequate health care capacity to deal with the increase in cases.

Currently, there are 624 active COVID-19 cases statewide with 61 individuals hospitalized. The number of new cases reported for the month of July is 958, exceeding the case count for the first five months of the pandemic, which was 900.

“Take a deep breath,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green during the press conference. “We’re doing alright.”

However, Green echoed the governor’s message of the importance of wearing face masks and social distancing.

“I think everyone knows how to prevent the darn spread of the disease,” Green said.

Out of the 112 ICU beds in use, only 15 are for COVID-19 patients. There are currently 64 ventilators in use. The one individual hospitalized on the Big Island isn’t on a ventilator.

Out of the new cases reported Wednesday, 23 were juveniles. So far, six individuals have been hospitalized, but health officials expect that to increase.

DOH Director Bruce Anderson said only four cases of the 109 were linked to travel.

“We’re seeing more community transmission,” Anderson said. “The virus is widespread on O‘ahu.”

Anderson said the DOH has advised that strategic action be taken.

“With these restrictions we still need people to take responsibility to protect themselves,” he said.

Most of the cases, Anderson said, can be traced to someone who was symptomatic and went out while they were sick.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.

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