Many Hawaii healthcare workers say more is needed to stop surge of coronavirus cases

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The only reinstated restriction since Hawaii consistently began reporting hundreds of daily COVID-19 cases has been reducing social gathering sizes to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

Many healthcare workers said that is not enough.

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“Our cases are increasing, hospitals are filling up and this has no end in sight,” explained emergency physician Dr. Darragh O’Carroll.

“A lot of the models show we’ll be at 600 COVID patients in the next two to three weeks, and that is not a sustainable number for our healthcare system,” he added.  “We’re questioning why more action isn’t being taken.”

Dr. O’Carroll said Hawaii should reinstate a mask mandate, go back to pre-testing all incoming travelers and consider adding a post-arrival test for extra protection.

“Some epidemiologists are asking for closing down the state for two weeks to 30 days, I’m not sure we’re quite there yet, but we have to do more than the slight indoor restrictions we have,” Dr. O’Carroll added.

KHON2 asked Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi if he thought the mask mandate should be reinstated on Saturday, Aug. 14.

“Until this subsides, I think it is prudent to have a mask mandate, that’s not my call to mandate that,” Blangiardi said.

Dr. O’Carroll said there are nine patients who are not vaccinated for every one vaccinated COVID-19 patient in the hospital. He added vaccines are the best solution.

The state has been trying to boost vaccine numbers and a big boost could come when Pfizer receives full FDA approval, which is expected in a few weeks.

“Of the 225,000 people that are right now eligible to be vaccinated but have chosen not to, somewhere around half to 60% of them will consider getting vaccinated, we’re told, that would be great, that would make a huge difference,” explained Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

Starting on Monday, Aug. 16, state workers will have to prove their vaccination status or opt into weekly testing.

“No one is forcing anyone to get vaccinated, period,” Green said. “But people are being asked to test otherwise and I think it is fair that we get the tests free for people all across the state.”

Earlier this week, House Speaker Scott Saiki suggested Gov. Ige implement a “Safe Pass,” which would only allow vaccinated people inside bars, restaurants and shops. Lt. Gov. Green and Mayor Blangiardi said they like the idea.

“What’s going on right now as far as the amount of active case counts, hospitalizations, is our worst fear come true,” Blangiardi said.

“I’ve been living on this planet a long time, and I’ve never lived through this before, where if I get sick, I’m not alone, I can get other people sick and they could possibly die, I would no more let anybody enter the premises or workplace that was going to be an endangerment to anyone working there,” he said.

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