Hawai‘i Health Director on COVID-19: “Weak Link is Prevention”
Aug. 3, 2020 News Conference: COVID-19 briefing to discuss the latest on COVID-19 cases and contact-tracing efforts. Video: Governor David Ige / Facebook LIVE.
Governor Addresses Spike in Cases, Gives Update on Contact-Tracing Capacity
Gov. Ige held a news briefing Monday after DOH reported another spike in COVID-19 cases. A total of 207 cases were announced today, although 114 of those cases are due to delayed test results.
The governor pointed out it is a result of community spread and that people have been relaxing and letting their guard down. He also gave an update on contact tracers in the state, providing assurances that despite concerns, DOH has enough contact tracers trained to handle the number of cases.
Gov. Ige said, “The number of contact tracers currently on staff are managing today’s demands. The DOH is activating more contact tracers to handle the expected increase in cases.” He also pointed out the National Guard has 60 contact tracers available to assist and scale up on contact-tracing capacity.
However, the governor and DOH have both noted that contact tracing isn’t a substitute for safe practices, such as physical distancing and wearing masks, that prevent the spread of the virus.
In his briefing Gov. Ige said, “As we re-opened, many people have relaxed their vigilance and this new surge is a result. If we don’t get this surge under control, we may need to put back some restrictions and no one wants to see that. We can only beat COVID-19 by working together. Everyone needs to take personal responsibility. Wear a mask, wash your hands, practice physical distancing, avoid large gatherings, stay home if you’re sick, and keep your children home if they feel sick. We were successful in keeping the virus under control and I know we can do it again.”
Triple Digit Coronavirus Case Counts Continue into a Second Week
The highest, single-day record of new positive COVID-19 cases is being reported by the Department of Health today, at 207. Approximately 114 of these cases are the result of delayed reporting over the weekend, a result of private clinical laboratory reporting issues.
Health Director Bruce Anderson said, “It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to detail all of the situations in which people are becoming infected with coronavirus. It runs the whole gamut of hanging out with close friends, socializing in bars, attending religious events and funerals, and many other types other social gatherings.”
He said Hawaiʻi needs to focus much more on social distancing, not coming to work sick, and taking other prevention activities that he said we’ve lost track of. “That’s whats going to make this thing turn around,” said Dr. Anderson.
Dr. Anderson also said a multi-pronged approach is needed. He outlined four pillars to mounting what he called a strong outbreak defense including:
- (1) prevention (face coverings, safe distancing);
- (2) detection (testing) ,
- (3) containment (case investigation, contact tracing, isolation, quarantine) ,
- (4) treatment (icu beds available, ventilators to adequately treat individuals).
“We can’t control an outbreak by relying on any one of these pillars,” said Dr. Anderson.
“Prevention activities are probably far more important in terms of preventing the spread of disease,” said Dr. Anderson. “Based on our investigations, we are seeing that the weak link in the response is in the area of prevention.” He continued saying, “I think the rise in the number of positive cases can be attributed primarily to the lack of physical distancing and letting down your guard.”
He called the situation on Oʻahu “widespread” and “endemic,” and said it is “entrenched in the community.”
“Based on our case investigations, and the high number of sustained cases, the virus is widespread on Oʻahu. It is fair to say that COVID-19 is now endemic. It is entrenched in the community; as there are no longer any easily identifiable sources of exposure in many cases,” said Dr. Anderson.
He said cases with no clear exposures make it much more difficult to deal with. “We need to generally be more focused around prevention activities. That’s our challenge going forward,” he said.