HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii State Department of Health announces 18 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, June 18.
Officials said the surge was expected due to the reopening of the state and the Black Lives Matter protests the first week in June.
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green said Hawaii could see numbers like this for the next several days. He is urging the public to be especially vigilant this weekend to help bring those numbers back down.
On Saturday, June 6th an estimated 10,000 people gathered supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement marching together from Ala Moana to the State Capitol. The day before the protest marched in Waikiki with roughly 2,000 in attendance. Twelve to thirteen days later a spike in positive cases of coronavirus.
“Eighteen new cases today and it’s in effect the result of the protests. And then of course there’s a small surge at a nursing facility, so the combo is 18 cases,” Green explained.
The spike uptick in cases is no surprise. Green warned it would happen.
“You have to expect these small surges if people do end up out-and-about without significant social distancing.”
Green said he the surge could last from three to five days but believes it will be short-lived.
He said the fact that the protest coincided with reopening dine-in restaurant service was unfortunate.
“My hope has always been to add only one significant variable at a time since we opened restaurants — and that we knew would have some small increase. But I’m not going to criticize people for exercising their freedom of speech, their right to gather together and to protest injustice.”
Even though it’s not ideal, Green is not overly concerned.
“We’ve done an incredible thing, which is get through phase one with 17 fatalities only. There are definitely going to be a few people that succumb to the virus, but we can keep that number very low if we don’t forget that COVID is around.”
He said Hawaii’s healthcare facility resources are ready.
“We’re still only about 50 percent of our intensive car units being used and only about 12 percent of our ventilators. We’re fine from a healthcare standpoint.”
But he said, it’s important to remember that social distance and the need to wear masks won’t be changing any time soon.
“It’s going to be like this for the rest of the year. There are going to be moments where we have surges but I would be super mindful that we don’t have a consistent surge that would jeopardize our health…Being careful is the key and I will put every protocol in place to reduce the risk. But that still could spread here between us when we’re being carefree.” Green explained.
He suggests doing something peaceful and quiet this weekend and stresses the importance of avoiding crowds. If you are going to be around others, Green said don’t forget your mask.
There are currently 105 active cases, out of 762 total cases in Hawaii.
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