LIVE STREAM: Gov. Ige Discusses Recent Spike in COVID-19 Cases
Governor David Ige discussed the latest COVID-19 cases in Hawaiʻi during an afternoon press conference on Tuesday. There are 41 new COVID-19 cases reported for Hawaiʻi today, marking the largest single day increase in cases since the pandemic began. Today’s breakdown includes 38 cases on the island of Oʻahu, two on Kauaʻi and one on Hawaiʻi Island.
Gov. Ige said, “It is the highest we’ve had, and it is concerning. However, as we re-opened our economy, we expected this. We are tracking this very closely and it is manageable right now. We have the ability to test people we need to test, and DOH has significantly increased the number of people available to trace the contacts of positive cases.”
Gov. Ige also said he is “in daily discussions with DOH, the county mayors, and other leaders. As we have done in the past, we will continue to make decisions based on the best available science and facts. We have not made any decisions yet and will let you know as soon as any changes are necessary.”
“I want to assure everyone that the state of Hawaiʻi did not open early, and we have always been driven by the data and the conditions that we see,” said Gov. Ige.
- Joining the governor were Dr. Bruce Anderson, Director, Department of Health, and Dr. Sarah Park, Hawai‘i State Epidemiologist. Governor David Ige and State health officials discussed and answered questions about recent COVID-19 cases and the state’s continued contact tracing efforts.
State Health Officials Say Spike in Cases Could Continue
DOH officials are reminding the public that Hawaiʻi could continue to see a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases as levels of activity increase within the state.
DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson said, “Now more than ever it is critically important for everyone to wear a cloth face mask whenever outside of their home. Many of the clusters we have been investigating are associated with situations where a mask has not been worn or physical distancing was not exercised. These are new infections that are not associated with known cases and investigations … We have an opportunity now to turn around these numbers before opening travel and safely resuming school and work. Let’s take this opportunity to all wear masks and do our part to prevent COVID-19.”
State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said, “This latest report shows COVID-19 is widely circulating in our community. The numbers today will likely continue, at least at this level, if people continue to disregard using their masks and physical distancing. While we have an increased number of staff at DOH and are in the process of hiring newly trained contact tracers, the community must adhere to safe practices – as no amount of contact tracing and testing will combat a respiratory pathogen alone.”
DOH Continues to Monitor Clusters
DOH is continuing to monitor several clusters, including one associated with Hawaiian Airlines which now involves 15 cases; 13 staff and two close contacts of those employees. Yesterday it was announced nine cases were associated with a gym in Honolulu that had poor ventilation and insufficient physical distancing.
Other clusters include seven cases at a food distribution company, four cases involving a hardware distributor, and a cluster of cases on Kaua‘i.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said clusters have also stemmed from a Father’s Day gathering, and a separate cluster involving a business trip that went to Hawai‘i Island.
The trip on the Big Island is still under investigation. “What we know for certain is it was a business group that went for trainings on the Big Island on both sides of the island–Hilo side as well as the Kona side. We are still trying to determine what other commonalities potentially especially amongst those who have been identified as positive out of the group. There have been a few already now–and the rest of them are all in quarantine and being monitored–but at this point we’re not certain exactly where the exposure happened. The timing of the trip relative to illness onset begs for the fact that the exposure likely happened at least during travel, if not while they were on the Big Island. The big question is how they were exposed,” said Dr. Park, noting there have not yet been any cases identified on Big Island associated with the group so far.
“The common theme that we are seeing often times it that people are letting their guard down,” said Dr. Park. “We’re living in a world where COVID exists. What that means is that even among our friends or family that we haven’t seen in a while and we aren’t going to be seeing consistently (they’re not part of our bubble) we need to mask up and keep our distance,” she said.
“I hope the takeaway from the 41 cases today is that it is a wakeup call for all of us the COVID is still a threat in Hawai‘i. Before the governor imposed the 14-day quarantine, we were projecting case in the hundreds of cases a day. Of course California, Texas, Florida… they are experiencing thousands–in fact in Texas tens of thousands a day. The disease is still there. I think our success in keeping this disease where it has been is one of our great challenges now. People are used to going out and about and not feeling the risk of COVID and they have let down their guard,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson.
“We have to keep up that social distancing–wash your hands; wear the masks and obviously don’t go to work when you’re sick,” said Dr. Anderson. “That’s the only thing that’s going to make a big difference,” he said asking the public to do their part.
Community outreach and testing activities continue.
2,637 Passengers Arrive on Monday
Yesterday a total of 2,637 people arrived in Hawai‘i including 616 visitors and 839 returning residents. There was a total of 23 arriving flights. During the same time last year, approximately 35,000 people arrived in Hawai‘i daily. This table shows the number of people who arrived by air from out of state yesterday but does not show interisland travel.
While pre-travel testing for trans-Pacific travel is projected to start on Aug. 1 as an alternative to the mandatory 14-day quarantine, the governor continues to review data and science to determine any potential changes to the program rollout.
We asked the governor about International travel to Japan, one of the main gateway international destinations for Hawaii, and if there is a timeline in place for resumption of service.
“We continue to work with both the government of Japan as well as businesses that are involved. The tour companies, the airlines and the hotels that really focus on travel from Japan. We don’t have a specific timeline, but we’ve exchanged proposals and discussions about similar to the pre-testing travel program–what protocols can we put in place before departure in bringing guests back,” said Gov. Ige.
“What things can the hotels and the tour companies do to extend the public health capacity. We want everyone involved with travel from Japan to be part of the solution–allowing us to monitor the health of the guests that come here; be able to identify those who may become symptomatic; be able to get health care services and testing if necessary; and then isolation should that be necessary,” said Gov. Ige.
“So we continue to try to get this system up as quickly as possible. We do have ongoing discussion with businesses and properties here in the islands. We know that we want to have this occur as quickly as possible but we also want to make sure that we can do it in a safe and healthy way for both our community and the guests that will be coming,” said Gov. Ige.
Senate Staff Members Tested for COVID-19
In a memorandum sent to employees at the State Capitol, Senate President Ron Kouchi said all individuals working in the Senate office in which a staff member had tested positive over the weekend have tested negative for COVID-19. He reminded everyone to follow social distance requirements, wear masks at the Capitol, properly wash your hands, and sanitize all equipment and frequent touch spots.