HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi will not impose restrictions ahead of the new year. Instead, he and the other county mayors are urging people to get boosted and act responsibly.
“We don’t want to close any businesses right now. We’ve got 95 people in the hospital, we got high vaccine rates, we have safe access Oahu as a government regulation, and if you want a statement from the governor what you need to do is get a booster,” Blangiardi explained.
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Hawaii continues to see quadruple digits in coronavirus cases, with the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) reporting 1,561 new cases and three new deaths on Wednesday, Dec. 29.
According to Blangiardi, 24.7% of eligible residents have received their booster shots statewide. There are currently 95 COVID-19 patients hospitalized — with14 in the ICU and 10 on ventilators.
The mayor has been asking people to take personal responsibility and made it clear he was not happy being criticized for it.
“I really didn’t like the way the spokesperson from the department of health twisted that and said that somehow personal responsibility was not enough,” Blangiardi said. “We’re not passing the buck on responsibility. Not at all. Not me or anybody in our administration.”
He explained that people need to take responsibility because what they choose to do impacts those around them.
Blangiardi also acknowledged businesses, like Hawaii Theatre, that chose soft lockdowns.
“It goes back to personal responsiblity, and that has a lot to do with the businesses that are closing, the events that have been cancelled, what people are doing on their own because they don’t have enough staff to carry it, or they know that the patrons are not going to go,” Blangiardi added.
Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami is also against tightening restrictions, citing no COVID hospitalizations in Kauai County, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DOH reducing quarantine and isolation restrictions.
“As long as we can have a steady healthcare system in place, that is where we want to be. Of course we are always very concerned, but if you take a look at some of the actions and recommendations from the CDC — they are giving out guidelines to shorten the quarantine and isolation period without needing a negative test. So, I’m reading this that we are slowly becoming more acclimated, coexisting with COVID-19 and this is the steps forward.”Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami
Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth changed their indoor gathering limits from 25 to 10 ahead of New Year’s Eve.
“We know people are going to be celebrating this week for New Year’s, and we’d rather have them do it out in carports and outside versus inside where they can get this virus,” Roth said.
Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz said they are making one adjustment to their rules to stress the importance of vaccinations.
“The mayor is changing the emergency rules for county-related rules to include a changing to the definition of fully vaccinated to include a booster shot for those that are eligible,” noted Baz.
That goes into effect on Jan. 8.
Watch the full news conference below:
Lt. Gov. Josh Green on Wednesday told KHON2 that to help deal with the increase in cases and emergency workers being out, more than 700 healthcare workers are coming to the state next week to help. He said mostly nurses and respiratory therapists have been scheduled to come in.
Click here to watch Wake Up 2day for details.
He shared this message ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations: Celebrate safely.
“Celebrate with your family, exclusively if you can, or your closest friends, meaning your bubble, exclusively if you can,” Green said. “Also, the right standard is make sure everyone who comes to your party has had their shots and is boosted and everyone wears a mask indoors, especially if they have not been fully protected.”
Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information
Green added that those who are vaccinated and boosted do not have much to worry about because “the only people who are getting severely sick and ending up in the intensive care unit appear to be over 60 who are not fully protected with three shots.”