News and Commentary

Hawaii Lt. Gov. Suggests Labor Day Lockdown, Forcing People To Stay Home All Weekend
tropical beach with palm tree and flowers in makena, maui, hawaii
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Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green (D) suggested the state could enter a 72-hour stay-at-home lockdown over Labor Day weekend after the Aloha State reported a record high number of COVID cases.

To be clear, the record high in Hawaii amounted to 1,678 cases out of a state population of nearly 1.5 million. That number also includes “a partial catch-up of reporting after one lab experienced system errors from Aug. 15 to Aug. 25,” The Associated Press reported. Hospitalizations in Hawaii remain steady at around 410 to 420 COVID-19 patients. There were two deaths on Sunday and a total of 25 in the past week.

This brings Hawaii’s total to 62,229 cases and 589 deaths throughout the entire pandemic. Only Alaska and Vermont have had fewer deaths.

On Monday, Green told Hawaii’s KHON2 that a potential stay-at-home order would help stop the spread of the Delta variant and give the health care system some relief. He reportedly added that the “pause” would not impact businesses or schools, though it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t if everyone was forced to stay home.

“Today, we’re at 414,” Green said of current hospitalizations. “Now, tragically, some of the counts have been lowered because there have been some fatalities in the last few days.”

Gov. David Ige (D-HI), however, made clear that a lockdown is not currently planned.

“There are currently no plans to shut down,” Ige wrote on social media channels. “All posts on social media and being distributed by other means are not true.”

The fears of a Labor Day surge in Hawaii come after hundreds of people gathered for a party at Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline, violating state restrictions against large gatherings.

Jason Redulla, who works for Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, told the AP that he was angry people were gathering given the recent case totals.

“I’ve instructed my officers, going forward, to confiscate any equipment or supplies used for these gatherings,” Redulla told the outlet. “If the loss of personal property, taken for evidence in criminal prosecutions, is not enough to get these people to start acting responsibly, we hope it doesn’t take their friends or loved ones getting sick or dying to wake them up.”

Hilton Raethel, the president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, told KHON 2 that the state is currently experiencing the worst of the pandemic.

“The reality is [the pandemic] is still here, and we right now in Hawaii, are going through the most severe part of the pandemic in almost this two-year period,” he said.

About 55% of Hawaiians are fully vaccinated.

“People who are not vaccinated, they’re just playing the odds and hoping that they don’t get sick or hoping they don’t get hospitalized, and they hope they don’t die, and when you play the odds, some people win, and some people lose, and unfortunately, we have an increasing number of individuals who are playing the odds and losing,” Raethal said.

Raethal also insisted that if everyone simply followed basic habits like social distancing, mask-wearing, and handwashing, the pandemic would be under control, even though months of lockdowns in 2020 showed that simply isn’t possible.

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