Oahu to Close for Two Weeks and ‘Reset’ Pandemic Response Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases in Hawaii

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There are COVID-19 issues in Heaven.

Four weeks ago, Hawaii had a total of 1,688 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic and was reporting an average of 45 new cases per day, according to an NBC News analysis.

Since then, the total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 6,700 and public health officials are now reporting around 200 new cases per day. Meanwhile, the death toll has also nearly doubled, from 26 to 49, according to the figures.

Hawaii is the latest state to see an increase in cases; Southern and Sun Belt states have seen an explosion of new cases and deaths in recent months following numerous reopenings in May at the behest of President Donald Trump, as the pandemic gained momentum in those regions .

The death toll in the United States rose to more than 180,000 on Wednesday and the number of confirmed cases was quickly approaching 6 million, according to the latest figures from NBC News. Both are leading numbers in the world.

While Hawaii’s numbers are low compared to the rest of the United States, they have sounded the alarm bells and Governor David Ige, a Democrat, has given the green light to a second stay at home order. work from home ”for the island of Oahu. It begins at 12:01 am Thursday and will remain in effect for two weeks.

“In March and April we were able to flatten the curve,” Ige said at a press conference on Tuesday, where he was joined by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who is also a Democrat, and the Surgeon General. American Jerome Adams. “We need to get this under control.”

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“It will be different from last time,” Caldwell said. “We’re going to reset what we’re doing.”

So, over the next two weeks, Hawaii public health officials will step up testing on Oahu, the state’s most populous island, and the state’s largest city, Honolulu, and hire between 250 and 500 contact tracers.

They also booked an entire hotel on Friday “with hundreds of rooms” where people who test positive or have been in contact with people who test positive will be quarantined away from family and friends, Caldwell said.

“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “We hope that the number of cases will decrease … Otherwise, we will seek to continue.”

The biggest outbreaks, Caldwell said, have been in communities in the Pacific Islands and the Philippines.

Adams said Hawaii has seen stabilization in new cases, but remains “at a crossroads” and things could deteriorate “very quickly”.

“There is good news, most of you are doing the right thing,” he says. “Sadly, all it takes is a big rally, a party, a group of people going to a bar to undo a lot of the progress and a lot of the work that the rest of the people have been doing. Hawaii is working to stop this virus. . “

Jessica Yamauchi, who heads the nonprofit Hawaii Institute of Public Health, applauded the governor’s decision and noted that her condition currently has an alarming 9.3% positivity rate. By comparison, New York state – once the country’s hotspot – has had a positivity rate of less than 1% for 19 straight days, Governor Andrew Cuomo reported on Wednesday.

“While we are still waiting to review the latest emergency orders, we believe further restrictions were needed to lower our positivity rate and reduce transmissions in the community,” Yamauchi said. “We believe the positivity rate should be used as a key metric to guide state decisions on when to tighten or ease restrictions on businesses, utilities and institutions. The additional 5,000 tests per day over the next two weeks will also provide the essential data needed to determine the best way to reduce the community’s spread. “

Deaths and cases in the United States account for just over a fifth of the more than 821,000 deaths worldwide and about a quarter of the nearly 24 million confirmed cases worldwide.

In other coronavirus news:

  • As the pandemic still rages in Texas and Louisiana and Hurricane Laura hits their shores, local authorities are struggling to get people out of harm’s way – while keeping them away from each other – by sheltering them in hotels. But Travis County, which includes the city of Austin, quickly ran out of rooms. And the idea of ​​staying in a shelter full of storm refugees gave a lot of doubts about leaving their homes. “Hopefully it’s not that threatening to people, to life, because people are reluctant to go anywhere because of COVID,” Robert Duffy said as he placed sandbags around his house in Morgan City, Louisiana. “No one wants to sleep in a gym with 200 other people. It’s a little hard to social distancing. Houston, which was flooded by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, closed all public coronavirus testing sites ahead of the storm. Dr Joseph Varon, chief medical officer at United Memorial Medical Center, told the Houston Chronicle that they plan to reserve half of the beds for coronavirus patients and the other half for those injured by the storm. He said he was preparing for another wave of coronavirus patients. “People are going to go to shelters and close confined spaces because of the storm,” Varon said. “People are going to get sick, there’s no doubt about it. “

  • The governors of two of the states hardest hit by the pandemic have announced that they will not follow new guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which require less – not more – testing. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has accused the agency of bending to pressure from the White House. “This is the exact opposite of what the CDC said,” Cuomo told reporters. “So either the CDC is schizophrenic or they admit to a mistake in their first position or these are just political dictations. California Gov. Gavin Newsom posted on Twitter, “This will not be the policy of the state of California. The CDC had advised testing for anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who had been in contact with an infected person. But on Wednesday, the agency turned the tide and said healthy people who had been exposed to COVID-19 “don’t necessarily need a test,” as long as they don’t show symptoms. Trump has openly and repeatedly stated that the only reason the United States has the most cases of COVID-19 is because it performs the most testing, a claim that public health experts overwhelmingly reject.
  • More than 100 new cases of COVID-19 have been linked to the massive Sturgis motorcycle rally held earlier this month in South Dakota. Thousands of bikers attended the rally and neglected to socially distance themselves or wear masks. The cases linked to the rally have been found in South Dakota, Minnesota and six other states. Several people were hospitalized. “We expect to see many more cases associated with Sturgis,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of the infectious disease division of the Minnesota Department of Health. “Thousands of people attended this event, so it’s very likely that we’ll see more transmission. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican and a staunch supporter of Trump, said earlier that her state was proud to host the annual gathering. NBC News has reached out to its spokesperson for comment on the increase in coronavirus cases linked to rallies.

  • As thousands of teachers in public and private schools across the country oppose attempts by local governments to restart classroom teaching, Vice President Mike Pence’s wife Karen Pence said she was “excited” to return to her job as an art teacher at Immanuel Christian Private School in Springfield, Virginia. “We’re 100% kids in school, and we have ways to take precautions, and the CDC has told us that very clearly,” she told Fox News. “My school has spent the whole summer working on ways to make school safer.” Pence said she wouldn’t be teaching in an art room; instead, “I take a cart, from room to room, because we don’t want the kids to congregate in the hallways. Katherine Leiva, a former Florida teacher and member of the nonprofit Leadership for Education Equity, said that state districts like Indiana, Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Georgia “have come together. open with the same level of enthusiasm shared by Ms. Pence. “But had to close after cases increased. “As we strive to maintain a semblance of normalcy, I fully understand and sympathize with anyone who just wants to come home, but in doing so, we have to admit that it’s not with people’s safety in mind,” Leiva said in an email. The two Pences are expected to speak at the virtual Republican National Convention later Wednesday.
  • Chicago White Sox ace Lucas Giolito became the first pitcher to pitch a smooth in this pandemic-stricken baseball season when he shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday. And there was no one in the stands at the Guaranteed Rate Field to watch it happen, unless you counted the cardboard cutouts 1,500 fans bought themselves to “sit” in the seats during games. at the White Sox home.

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