Ige Executive Order Once Again Reduces Gatherings and Sets Capacity Limits
Governor David Ige today signed an executive order that sets statewide limits for social gatherings, restaurants and bars and other settings.
Executive Order Includes Three Main Provisions
The order takes effect immediately and includes the following provisions:
- Social gatherings will be limited to no more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
- For all high risk activities such as bars, restaurants, gyms and social establishments, indoor capacity is set at 50% and patrons must remain seated with parties maintaining at least six feet of distance between each group. There will be no mingling and masks must be worn at all times except with actively eating or drinking.
- Professional events must comply with all state and county orders, rules, and directives regarding operation. Those organizing professional events larger than 50 people will need to notify and consult with the appropriate county agency prior to the event occurring. These limitations will apply statewide.
For events that are already planned, Gov. Ige suggested that organizers contact the counties which are in charge of establishing procedures that will allow them to review the requests. For Maui County, organizers can email [email protected] or call 808-270-7855. He said some transition challenges are expected, but wants people to make the best effort they can in the coming days.
For now, there are no changes planned for the state’s Safe Travels program or to the state’s in-person learning.
“We are evaluating the Safe Travels program, but we would note that the number of cases from visitors is relatively low–it’s 1-2%. The bulk of the travel related cases… about 15-20% are residents traveling outside of the islands, getting infected and returning to our islands. So at this point in time, we won’t be making any specific changes to the safe travels program,” said Gov. Ige.
In regards to public schools and returning in person learning, Gov. Ige said, “educational professionals across the country recognize the severe impact the pandemic has had on our young people. We do know that tour school settings are more than the book learning that occurs. In addition to the education, it is about socializing and the social interactions between our children. We do have a structured and layered program in all of our schools. We are prepared for identifying those who may be sick, and isolating and testing them as quickly as possible. We continue to believe that the benefits of in-person learning exceeds the risks,” he said.
Doubling of Case Counts Recorded Every 7-10 Days
The order comes as the state’s COVID-19 case counts have seen a significant spike, with widespread community transmission. According to Gov. Ige, Hawaiʻi saw case counts double about every 7-10 days in the month of July.
Today there were a total of 436 cases statewide. This comes on the heels of record high case counts of more than 600 cases on several days this past week. The latest data represents an average of 537 cases per day for the state over the past seven days.
“Our test positivity rate is 7.25% and today in our hospitals, we have 219 COVID patients. Just for comparison, a month ago in July, the seven day average was 60 instead of 500, the test positivity was at 2.25% and we had 48 in the hospitals,” said Gov. Ige.
50% of COVID Hospitalizations in Hawaiʻi are Now People Under 50
State officials say the bulk of cases making it to the hospital are in unvaccinated individuals. “That’s why we’ve made a big effort to make the vaccine widely available and provide all the information you might need to make an informed decision for yourself,” said Gov. Ige.
Earlier today, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green Tweeted that 50% of COVID hospitalizations in Hawaiʻi now, are people under 50. Gov. Ige attributes the shift to positive work in vaccinating the older demographic.
“I think that a big change in the age of those being infected by COVID is just, we have done a terrific job in protecting our kupuna here in the state,” said Gov. Ige. “I know when I spoke with Dr. [Libby] Char, she believed that those 60 and older were at 80-85% of the population fully vaccinated. So what you’re seeing is the fact that the virus is spreading amongst those who are not vaccinated, and those who are not vaccinated tend to be age 18-40, and they’re the ones who are getting infected with the virus.”
Benefit From Increased Vaccination Won’t Be Seen for Another 6-7 Weeks
According to Gov. Ige, the state is seeing transmission and clusters from people going to work, attending social gatherings, and going to restaurants when they are sick. “We need to take action and we need to take action now. We need to minimize person to person contact in order to reduce transmission. We do know vaccines work and wearing masks work, but we all need to be committed to do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
He said this is why the state implemented a vaccine and testing policy for state and county employees, which was announced last week.
“All of these efforts are ongoing and will improve vaccination rates in our community. We know that we won’t see benefit from the increase in vaccinations going up for another 6-7 weeks. In the meantime, we must take action now in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially with the new Delta variant, which has wreaked havoc in our communities,” said Gov. Ige.
He continued to relay a message that the current actions are being taken in order to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed.
“With the combined rise in vaccination rates and limits on gathering sizes, both efforts can help to slow the spread of COVID-19 and get us to where we need to be and able to move back to normal,” said Gov. Ige.
“As always, we know what we can do individually to help fight COVID-19: stay at home when you’re sick and keep your children home when they’re sick; wear your mask when indoors or in large groups when outdoors when you can’t maintain your distance; wash your hand and use hand sanitizer. These simple everyday measures that we all can do, can contribute in our fight against COVID-19.”
Maui Specific Issues: Freedom Demonstration and Airport Crowding
Maui Managing Director Sandy Baz participated in the media briefing in place of Maui Mayor Michael Victorino. When asked if the new order will have impacts on public gatherings like the follow-up demonstration planned by medical freedom advocates, Baz said they mayor “has always supported people’s rights to express their freedoms.” He said the county would be working with the state to ensure rules are followed.
Yesterday’s demonstration drew an estimated 500 people, well above the 25 allowed under the governor’s executive order.
When asked about overcrowding at Kahului Airport, Gov. Ige said the state continues to work with the airlines to manage the arrival times of flights. He said a request has been made for flights to be staggered, but called it a “work in progress.”
Other measures that have been taken include pre-arrival check-ins, and working with the FAA to ensure that physical distance is maintained to the extent that space is available.
Gov. Ige concluded, “We want to encourage all who are not vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The only way to slow the spread , especially with the Delta variant is for everyone to do their part.”