COVID-19 cases continue to soar, restrictions likely to level up


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Department of Health recorded 284 coronavirus cases on Saturday, Aug. 22, and the state’s lieutenant governor said that the new restrictions haven’t curved the spread as much as he’d hope for.

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There are now 4,202 active cases in Hawaii and Lieutenant Governor Dr. Josh Green said he doesn’t anticipate numbers to decrease any time soon.

He said the death of a healthy, 36-year-old man should be a wake-up call to young people.

“It goes to show you–although most of our fatalities have been among our kupuna, it can happen to young people and that’s another reason why we have to take it so seriously,” he said.

On Saturday, the state saw its highest positive test rate since the pandemic began. Nearly 2,600 people were tested and almost 11% of the test results came back positive.

“It’s definitely still spreading despite the restrictions that have been put into place,” Lt. Gov. Green said. “We’ll see if they’re enough. If not, we’re going to have to take it to the next level.”

He said he’ll ask the governor to consider issuing a statewide mask mandate. Currently, each county has its own mask mandates but Green said the mandate would require everyone to wear a mask the moment they leave their home.

“I think very likely in two weeks, we’re going to have more serious lockdowns to stop the spread and presumably the sooner we do that, the sooner it will be over and we won’t be hearing about spikes in cases on the neighbor islands, we won’t be hearing about tragic fatalities among younger people, I mean all of that goes away as soon as we knock these cases down,” he continued.  

Hawaii Island’s 15 reported cases on Saturday are the island’s second-highest total of cases recorded. The highest total was 17 cases back in April.

On Friday, Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim limited gatherings to no more than 10 people after contact tracing found that recent cases were tied to a large gathering about three weeks ago and spread to a school educator.

“I wish it was as simple as [just focusing on] that school but it’s not, this is a serious situation that other people are involved because of a mass gathering,” said Mayor Kim.

Lt. Gov. Green said it’s good that schools have switched to distance learning during this time to prevent spread.

“We’re a month out, in my opinion, from any kind of on-site education in meaningful numbers, and this is our chance,” Lt. Gov. Green said. “October 2 is a day I’m looking at much more realistically. That’s when the first quarter of school ends. I can’t really see us getting down to low numbers before then.”

Mayor Kim and Lt. Gov. Green said the virus will continue to spread and more restrictions will be put into place if people don’t follow the rules.

“The base of the problem is people not adhering to the rules of gathering, distancing and face coverings and they must realize that that’s the base of how we’re going to get a handle on this,” Mayor Kim said.

Lt. Gov. Green said with 4,202 active cases that he anticipates the next wave of high case numbers to come around Sept. 1.

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