26 Aug 2020

Hawaiian island of O'ahu under "stay-at-home" order to settle Covid cases

5:56 pm on 26 August 2020

The Governor of the US state of Hawai'i says a lockdown order for the island of O'ahu is necessary to stem a recent spike in Covid-19 cases.

A morning view of the city of Honolulu, Hawaii on the morning a missile warning was sent out.

A morning view in Honolulu Photo: AFP

David Ige said authorities had to act to get on top of cases, which had risen to more than 200 a day this week.

Only essential businesses can remain open while religious services will be allowed with restrictions.

Ige said although it could be tough to stay at home, the two-week order, was needed to flatten the curve of cases.

"The troubling triple digit increases in the number of new Covid confirmations that we've had.

"This has put a stress on our healthcare system. We have always said that we will be data driven, looking at what's in the best interests of our community and taking action necessary."

Governor Ige said a similar order was declared in March which pushed daily case numbers down.

"In March and April we were successful in flattening the curve so that we had weeks and weeks of case counts less than 10 all across the state and we need to get back under control as we move forward in our community."

Ige said the move would allow officials to test the vulnerable and hard to reach people.

Governor David Ige

Governor David Ige Photo: Governor's Office

Honolulu's Mayor, Kirk Caldwell, said the new measures, which kick off Thursday local time, would help protect vulnerable communities.

He said testing would be ramped up - a target of 70,000 in 14 days - before reopening.

Caldwell said contact tracing and quarantining would also be stepped up, with new cases sent to a government facility.

"They cannot be quarantined with other members of their family who continue to go to work and spread the virus, particularly in our Pacific Islander community and in our Filipino American community where we see an increasing number of cases."

Caldwell said a hotel had been "acquired" to deal with quarantine needs and more were being lined up.

The mayor said the community had undergone such restrictions in the past and they could do it again.

He thanked the public for their hard work and understanding as people learned to live with the coronavirus until a vaccine was found.

The US Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, was in Hawai'i for the announcement describing the move as a temporary reset.

"It really only has to be temporary while we get testing, while we get contact tracing, while we get isolation done."

Although he did warn that it was up to the public to be compliant in order for the measure to work.

The order stated that essential services included child-care, construction, healthcare, some educational services, grocery stores, gas stations, banks and financial institutions and hardware stores.

Public schools, and the University of Hawai'i will still have in-person classes, but private schools were to conduct studies online.

Restaurants will be able to provide takeaway services only.

There have been nearly 7,000 cases of the coronavirus in Hawai'i, most of them in Honolulu.

49 people have died.

Officials said although non-Hawaiian Pacific Islanders made up just four percent of the state's population, they made up 30 percent of Hawai'i's Covid cases.