Ige: Vaccination rate means no more full-scale shutdowns
HONOLULU (AP) — Citing the high vaccination rate among Hawaii residents, Gov. David Ige said there would not be another shutdown in the state despite the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
“I can pretty much tell you there won’t be another full-scale shutdown,” Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Monday.
Instead, if further restrictions are needed, they would likely be in the form of curfews or reducing the size of social gatherings.
There are signs the rapid rise in cases in abating, and hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients have remained stable.
The state health department on Monday reported 461 new cases. The seven-day average for new cases is 567, a 37% drop from two weeks ago, and the number of tests coming back positive has declined to 6.9% from 7.8% over that same time period.
As of Monday, 392 people were hospitalized in Hawaii, down from 435 a week ago. Those in intensive care units also fell, from about 100 more than a week ago to 79 on Monday.
“It is getting a little better, but I think it is still too early to call it a definite trend that would provide relief,” Ige said.
Any increase in hospitalization rates or those admitted to ICU units would trigger new restrictions, he said.
He said curfews could reduce the number of people coming into emergency rooms because of accidents. Social gatherings could also be reduced. Currently 10 people can gather inside, and that could be cut in half. The limit for people congregating outdoors is 25, and that could be reduced to 10.
Hawaii’s vaccination rate remains among the highest in the country, and the recent surge of cases along with some vaccinate mandates is likely pushing more to get their shots.
Nearly 77% of Hawaii’s eligible population is fully vaccinated, and just over 86% has received at least one shot.
Hospitalization rates have also fallen off. Ige said that early in the pandemic, up to 10% of people testing positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized. That rate has now fallen to about 3%, he said.
The state has ample hospital beds, but staffing has been strained. The state brought in an extra 600 nurses and other health care professionals to assist with COVID-19 patients.
Thirty clinicians will arrive in Hawaii later this month to help administer monoclonal antibody therapy, which can reduce the severity of symptoms in people recently infected.
No hospital in Hawaii has had to implement protocols rationing critical health care to those most likely to survive, Ige said.