Mayor Caldwell urges Gov. Ige to remove prisoners from City’s case count

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A substantial number of Oahu’s case count on Sunday is connected to the Halawa Correctional Facility, according to Honolulu City and County officials. The growing amount of cases has prompted Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell to reach out to Hawaii Governor David Ige again to see if he is willing to take infected prisoners out of the City’s case count.

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The request comes as 180 new cases were reported on Sunday, Dec. 20. Mayor Kirk Caldwell says the last time Oahu saw a similar spike was in September and triggered an islandwide shut down.

“We’ve been told, but (it) hasn’t been confirmed with Department of Health, that 93 of those cases are from prisoners at Halawa,” said Mayor Caldwell.

Mayor Caldwell says he’s already asked the governor to take prisoners out of their case count over a week ago.

“So far, there hasn’t been a big impact on our health care system.” said the mayor. “So to leave them in and shut down the entire island of Oahu, to go back to Tier 1 with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic damage. Is it something we want to do?”

Lieutenant Governor Josh Green tells us he will respect what the Mayor and Governor decide but says everyone should be thoughtful about how to address the inmates.

“There is some merit to that recommendation, because the prisoners themselves will not spread the virus to the community. However, there is a component of concern, which is, as prisoners have become infected, they have underlying health conditions and a fair number have gone to the hospital,” said Lt. Governor Green.

Mayor Caldwell says he understands the concern and risk.

“I’d have to say that if we saw our healthcare system being strained by the prisoner population, then we would have to reconsider and perhaps add them back in if they were taken out,” said Caldwell.

While Green says a substantial number of Sunday’s cases are connected to Halawa, he’s convinced that events like Christmas parties have also caused some increase.

“We’re hearing about a lot of office parties actually, although almost every family has an invitation one way or another to a small gathering,” said Green.

Officials are urging the public to be careful this holiday season because as Green says the more gatherings there are, the bigger the surge will be.

“And if we can be really good about Christmas and New Year’s, we’re going to be in a great spot through January and February,” he said.

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