Honolulu first responders stretched thin due to COVID-19

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) – With questions arising recently about enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions across the City and County of Honolulu, SHOPO and Mayor Kirk Caldwell say that HPD is going to enforce as many of the mandates as possible.

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Tuesday Mayor Caldwell praised HPD and Chief Susan Ballard for what he calls stepping up to enforce emergency orders.

“We’re doing the best we can with the demands placed on the Honolulu Police Department,” Mayor Caldwell said.

HPD has been using ATVs to enforce gathering restrictions on beaches, stopping a large gathering at Waimea Bay last Saturday. Staffing issues have forced HPD to take some of those patrols onto other assignments.

“If we had our team of ATVs they probably could handle the Waikiki Beach side, where the beat men wouldn’t have to address anything on the beach, but right now because we’re so short we’re supplementing the watch with all of these support units,” SHOPO President Malcolm Lutu said.

To keep officers safe and in action, HPD has been switching over from cloth face coverings to N-95 masks to provide more protection.

“For the guys on patrol we just got masks, the N-95s.”

SHOPO President Malcolm Lutu

As with other first responders, HPD hasn’t been spared from COVID-19. Two weeks ago, the department announced a former recruit tested positive, which prompted more than 70 class members and officers to quarantine.

Over the weekend EMS revealed two cases within its ranks.

The Honolulu Fire Department announced on Tuesday that it was up to eight cases including a second firefighter from the Moanalua station.

“We’ve spread apart the beds,” Honolulu Infectious Disease Officer Dr. Jill Omori said of the new rules for fire stations before giving a stern warning. “The department has put up partitions between the beds. We’ve changed the rules about eating so that they can’t eat in the same vicinity.”

“You need to realize the more and more firefighters, EMS workers, and HPD officers that just put in isolation or get put in quarantine because they were exposed to people, pretty soon we’re not going to have any first responders to take care of us.”

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