Ige: interior masking, social distancing to pursue


Gov. David Ige said on Tuesday it was not yet time to roll back government restrictions on coronaviruses on restaurants and other businesses.

In a telephone interview with the Tribune-Herald, Ige responded to comments made Monday by Greg Maples, president of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, who said on a live broadcast: “It’s time for the government to salute the big things. that he did. done and give us back the wheel.

Tuesday was the sixth day in a row that the number of new COVID-19 cases statewide has reached triple digits, with the governor describing the development as “statewide”.

“I understand that restaurants are having challenges right now, but all the scientific and health data indicates that maintaining physical distance and wearing masks are two very key and essential elements in slowing the spread of the virus in our community. . ” Ige told the Tribune-Herald. “The (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) continues to recommend that, especially indoors, we maintain a distance of six feet between groups of individuals in different households.

“I know the restaurant industry really wants to be able to completely reopen and get their customers back,” he continued. “But we know that eating in a restaurant is a very high risk activity for several reasons. Obviously, you cannot eat and wear a mask, so you will have to remove your mask. You will be in an enclosed environment for an extended period of time – at least an hour, generally, and longer, in some cases. And you will be… in a room with people outside your home.

Ige said he was continuing to speak with the restaurant association, as well as other business groups, and then again pointed to the spike in the number of cases over the past week.

“COVID is still circulating in our community and we need to implement restrictions for at least a little longer to reduce the number of cases,” he said. “It is certainly of concern statewide. We continue to monitor the impact on the healthcare system, the number of hospitalized COVID patients and death rates. And while there has been a slight increase in the number of hospitalizations, we don’t see the increases we saw a year ago when we had the peak in the number of coronavirus cases in the state of Hawaii. “

Even though the governor is not yet ready to end restrictions on COVID-related businesses, he said he doubts the current situation will go to the point that a return to more restrictive measures will become necessary.

“We know that the treatment of the disease has improved,” he said. “There are more therapies available. Antibody treatments have been shown to reduce the severity of the disease. So we continue to monitor, and going back with restrictions is the absolute last resort. I don’t anticipate that to happen at this time, but we continue to monitor and are ready to do so if we need to to keep our communities healthy and safe. “

As of Tuesday, 59.4% of the state’s population was fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health, with 65.8% having received at least one injection of the new coronavirus vaccine.

In Hawaii County, 55% of the population had completed vaccination on Tuesday. Only Maui was below 53%.

The Big Island also had a 4.4% test positivity rate on Tuesday – the highest positivity rate among the state’s four counties.

DOH spokesman Brooks Baehr said on Monday that the rise in new infections and positivity rates were mostly among unvaccinated people.

“We have started posting postcode vaccination rates statewide, and the southern half of the island of Hawaii has below average vaccination rates,” Ige said.

According to the DOH, zip codes representing Pahoa, Mountain View, Naalehu, Ocean View, Honaunau and Captain Cook all show full vaccination rates to be 35% or less of the population, while Volcano and Pahala show rates between 35.1% and 45%, just like the village of Paauilo on the Hamakua coast.

“We are working with the mayor and district health workers to really target these communities and… reach out to community organizations so that we can get answers from people to any questions they may have, to encourage them to take up. the smart and wise decision, ”Ige said.

Email John Burnett at [email protected]


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