Surge testing and new restrictions to curb COVID-19

Posted on Aug 27, 2020 in Capitol Connection, Featured
Governor Ige, Mayor Caldwell and U.S. Surgeon General Adams announce “surge testing.”

Governor Ige, Mayor Caldwell and U.S. Surgeon General Adams announce “surge testing.”

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases on O‘ahu has resulted in a new two-week stay-at-home order, combined with an aggressive campaign for widespread testing, contact tracing, quarantining and isolation. The most recent “Stay at Home, Work from Home” order for O‘ahu, which went into effect Aug. 27, is similar to an earlier one issued by Governor Ige in March, which allowed only essential services to remain open,  encouraging telework and limiting restaurants to take-out only.

“Federal, state and county assets are being combined in the best way possible to keep our community healthy and safe. We know what we need to do; we’ve done it before,” said the governor, who worked with Mayor Kirk Caldwell and others to coordinate the new plan. The federally supported “surge testing,” which gives the state the capacity to conduct 5,000 COVID-19 tests per day statewide, was described as a “game changer” at an Aug. 25 news conference with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams —part of a national effort to get the virus under control. He spoke of Hawai‘i being in the “yellow-caution” positivity rate of 5 to 10 percent in COVID-19 tests, not the “green” range (under 5 percent) for reopening. “You’re at a turning point,” he said. “Things could get really bad and go to ‘red’ really quickly or they could be much improved if people do the right things.” Anyone who wants to get tested can go to www.doineedacovid19test.com to sign up for a time through Sept. 14. The tests are free of charge and no doctor’s order is needed, with results provided through e-mail notification in as early as three days.

An earlier “Act with Care, Do Not Gather” order for O‘ahu targeted large gatherings of people — especially where there is no physical distancing and wearing of masks. Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard delivered some tough talk, saying people should contact a newly established COVID-19 enforcement hotline at (808) 723-3900 or email [email protected] to report violators. “We’ve tried to warn people, educate people,” she said. “At this point, there are probably going to be very few warnings. It’s going to be either citations or arrests.” Mayor Caldwell said this order allows people to “traverse” in and out of the ocean for water activities, but “we need to clamp down as hard as possible on large, uncontrolled gatherings in parks, beaches and on trails.”  Ballard added, “Please abide by the emergency proclamations. Let’s show we can do this.” For more details on the current orders, go to www.honolulu.gov. For questions, call 768-CITY, email [email protected] or go to oneoahu.org.

Read more in the September Capitol Connection newsletter

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