Desperate warnings from Hawaii as restrictions are added back
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There are increasingly dire warnings coming from Hawaii as hospitals fill up amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. The governor of Hawaii is now begging tourists not to visit, saying, “It is a risky time to be traveling right now. It is not a good time to travel to the islands.”
The Associated Press reports Gov. David Ige isn’t adding any formal restrictions on travel at the moment but is asking tourists to reconsider trips to the islands.
In fact, while the governor said a lockdown was not on the table right now, it could be considered if things continue to deteriorate. He says that Hawaii hospitals are at capacity and intensive care units are full.
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Tourists are not generally the cause of COVID-19 community spread right now. Earlier this month, the governor said most cases were from unvaccinated locals. The governor said at the same Aug. 13 news conference that only 1% to 2% of new COVID-19 cases are coming from tourists.
Still, the governor says that the rapidly worsening surge in cases, combined with known problems with traffic, a lack of workers and not enough capacity at restaurants, means it’s a bad time for tourists to visit. There are shortages of everything from restaurant workers to rental cars to hotel rooms.
On Sunday, Aug. 22, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the state recorded its highest daily new case numbers since the pandemic began: 893 new cases or suspected cases. Monique Chyba is a mathematician who is doing forecasting of COVID-19 cases in Hawaii. She told the newspaper that her new models show the state could hit 3,700 daily cases by early October.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi has added back restrictions on large groups and gatherings. He is asking the state to again shut down beaches and parks. He also issued an emergency health order again restricting restaurant and bar capacity to 50%. This is likely to make a shortage of restaurant availability even worse.
Related: Hawaii ends testing requirements
Gov. Ige, in the Monday news conference, admitted that “Our call to reduce travel to the islands to only essential businesses will have an impact on the numbers who come here, but I would also like to point out that our hospitals are at capacity, our ICUs are full … I do know that that’s a risk, but I believe as a community that’s a risk we have to take to discourage travel to the islands until we can get to a better place with our health care facilities.”
Featured photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.
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