HONOLULU (KHON2) — With the number of positive COVID cases and hospitalizations down nearly 50% over the past week, KHON2 asked Gov. David Ige if people can expect COVID guidelines to be lifted anytime soon. 

He said the numbers are better Wednesday, Sept. 29, but the seven-day average is over 300 cases.

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“I think what we would want to be able to do is assure the health and safety of our community,” said Gov. Ige. “And then begin to release restrictions and return the recovery effort to get everyone back working.”

Gov. Ige said if everyone remains vigilant he can see the possibility of life getting back to normal by the holidays.

KHON2 also asked him about the state’s overall COVID vaccination rate. The initial benchmark for lifting all guidelines was 70% — then the delta variant emerged.

“I think the focus is on the healthcare system and on healthcare capacity. And I want to remind everybody that we still have more nurses than 650 nurses and medical technicians. They’re providing help and assistance, relief to many in our healthcare industry,” Gov. Ige explained.

One thing that Gov. Ige called a game-changer for the state is the possibility that children aged five to 11 will soon be able to get vaccinated.

“That’s the greatest news in the last month. We all want to protect our children. We know it’s important for us to keep our schools open. Our children are our most important asset. It’s a cliché but it’s real. We know we would do anything to protect our children.”

Gov. David Ige

On the subject of University of Hawaii football, Gov. Ige confirmed there will be no fans in the stands for homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 2. KHON2 asked him why the number of fans was limited to zero when that number does not apply to schools, shopping malls, restaurants or anywhere else people gather.

Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines and boosters

“It’s zero because we have more than 250 COVID-positive patients in our hospitals. It’s zero because we have more than 250 patients in the ICUs, and we are just under the maximum capacity,” Gov. Ige explained. “And should there be a tragic accident or any of those kinds of things that would happen, we would have to get to the position of rationing care and deciding who would get services and who wouldn’t — which we are all working to avoid.”