Mayors discuss potential strategy moving forward amid spike in coronavirus cases in Hawaii


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Moving backward is not an option for Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi amid another spike in COVID-19 numbers. With the rise in cases comes the ongoing challenge of getting more people vaccinated.

It is a challenge Mayor Blangiardi is trying to find solutions to.

“I’ve called some of the unions and I have asked them to encourage some of their employees,” said Mayor Blangiardi. “Any organization that might have direct contact with people. It’s only been a couple of days since this surge, so we haven’t come up with the Department of Health to create a clear-cut strategy to motivate.”

On the Garden Isle, Mayor Derek Kawakami’s office said most of the cases they are seeing are not tied to any business or activity in the County’s tier chart. That makes it difficult to justify enforcing new restrictions.

On Hawaii Island, Mayor Mitch Roth is closely monitoring hospital capacity.

“Starting to roll everything back and put people indoors is something we don’t want to have to do,” said Mayor Roth. “If the numbers start getting really out of control at our hospitals, we may have to do that.”

Due to the recent surge, Kona Community Hospital will no longer allow visitors in the emergency department starting Saturday. The hospital said they are averaging three to six positive patients daily.

“We have over 70 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the state right now,” said Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of Healthcare Association of Hawaii. “We have over 100 people on ventilators across the state right now and we have hospitals full with non-COVID patients and COVID patients. When you’ve already have COVID patients and on top of that have non-COVID patients, it just exacerbates the pressure on our hospitals.”

As far as reaching Gov. Ige’s 70% vaccination rate goal, Raethel said it seems as if incentives are not as helpful as they hoped. Officials are urging folks to not let COVID-19 fatigue wear them down, especially now.

“We’ve been talking for the last 18 months about wearing masks, distancing, washing your hands, all of these things, we know, help. We can’t let our guards down just yet,” said Mayor Roth.

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