Senate committee asks officials if Hawaii can handle current surge of coronavirus

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — There are about 4,300 active COVID-19 cases statewide as of Thursday, Aug. 5.

The state recorded its highest daily case count since the pandemic began with 655 cases on Thursday, the State Health Department (DOH) said 152 of Thursday’s cases (23%) were under 18 years of age.

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“We have 166 in the hospital, the only good news today is that there is still only one child, as I understand that is in the hospital,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “So, this is predominantly adults, but the cases are going to continue to be high until people choose to be vaccinated.”

Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Thursday that an announcement will be made on Friday, Aug. 6, regarding gathering sizes. Health officials said it is a good start because that is where cases are coming from.

“Family gatherings have been a source, trips to Vegas is a common source, and younger get-togethers going to the beach and hanging out,” explained Dan Brinkman, CEO of Hilo Medical Center.

“Weddings, funerals, gathering events, and indoors if people are eating and drinking even if they’re wearing masks too,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

The state says 95 to 97% of cases are among people who are not vaccinated. There have been over 500 breakthrough cases in Hawaii — about 1.3% of cases up to July 22.

Health officials said positivity and infection rates are continuing to increase with no signs of slowing down.

“The infection rate today in the unvaccinated population, which is 40 percent, is more than double the infection rate of the peak of the pandemic last year, and a small subset will die,” Raethel warned.

Hospitals said they can move patients around to other hospitals and can delay non-essential procedures and screenings for now, but they are stretched thin and in need of nurses.

State officials have said travel-related COVID cases have been low and have spread through gatherings, but the committee argued the variant came in through travel to begin with.

“I would agree with that, that is how it’s coming in that’s how it got a foothold here, but it spread in the community but it’s still coming in,” explained Gen. Kenneth Hara.

Gen. Hara said the state could consider travel restrictions once again.

Gen. Hara told senators during a special Senate committee meeting on Thursday that he will be talking with Gov. Ige and mayors on Friday about possibly getting rid of the vaccine exemption for travelers.

“We could roll that back and just mandate everyone be required again do the 72-hour pre-test, with all the same rules,” Hara said.

The Senate committee asked if there was a trigger number to roll the pre-test out once again.

“To be honest, I haven’t even thought about it yet, we do have a meeting tomorrow with the governor and mayors,” he said.

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