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State discourages travel as hospitals strained

LIHU‘E — Due to the uptick in COVID-19 cases across the state, Gov. David Ige is discouraging travel to the islands as hospitals face capacity limitations.

“We are seeing more COVID patients in our hospitals and the ICUs (intensive care units) are filling up,” Ige said Monday afternoon. Hospitals across the state, he said, are looking at surge planning, which includes converting regular-care beds to create more spaces for COVID-positive cases.

On Kaua‘i, there are currently four COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Monday.

According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, the state has about 342 ICU beds, 231 are in use. On Kaua‘i, there are 11 ICU beds, seven of which are being used. Six are being used by non-COVID-19 patients, according to the state.

“It is not a good time to travel to the islands,” Ige said, pointing, too, to the lack of rental cars and decreased restaurant capacity at 50%.

The majority of infections, however, have not been from visitors to the islands, but acquired through community spread, Department of Health Director Dr. Libby Char said Monday. Ige estimates it’ll take six to seven weeks to see “significant change” in case counts lowering.

While specifics weren’t given during a media briefing on Monday, Ige did say additional mandates or lockdown measures could be implemented if there is not a plateau in cases.

“Is a lockdown on the table? Yes, it would be if the number of cases would grow exponentially,” Ige said.

Daily COVID-19 briefing on Kaua‘i

On Kaua‘i, the state’s Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 among three visitors and 22 residents. Three of the cases are children and the rest adults. This brings the total number of active cases to 194.

This past weekend, health officials have identified two new clusters in places of worship and one cluster associated with a social gathering.

“The individuals potentially exposed to those three clusters have been notified and advised to be tested and to quarantine if they are close contacts,” Public Health Preparedness Planner Lauren Guest said Monday. “If their exposure did not meet close contact criteria, they were advised of their potential exposure and recommended to seek testing.”

In a previously disclosed cluster at Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center, the Department of Public Safety reported one new positive infection. As of Monday, 30 inmates have recovered, dropping the total active positive inmate count to 33.

Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said that clusters are happening with prolonged time in close contact indoors with poor ventilation “without consistent masking, with people who are unvaccinated, and when some of those who participate are symptomatic.”

The county’s dedicated contact tracing team is having assistance from the Hawai‘i National Guard and additional temporary staff hires for case investigations, Berreman also reported.

“Until this past week, we have been proud to successfully reach every newly detected case on Kaua‘i, and generally within 24 hours of receiving positive results. But with this recent surge in cases, we are finding that increasingly some people do not respond to our calls, or decline to provide information,” Berreman said.

Berreman said it’s becoming more difficult to perform a full investigation.

“So for the first time, there are several cases every day that we are unable to investigate and unable to perform contact tracing because we are not able to obtain the information we need putting all of us at risk. We do need your help.”

This includes possible exposures on the Kaua‘i Bus for anyone who rode route 100 or 200 between Kekaha and Lihu‘e, during the afternoon or evenings of August 10, 11, or 12.

Officials are also recommending testing for those who attended a gathering fronting the Historic County Building on Aug. 9.

“COVID is widespread on our island,” Guest said. “Please continue to do everything you can to minimize your risk of exposure by limiting your close contact with people outside of your immediate household, wearing your mask, and getting vaccinated if you haven’t already.”

In addition to the War Memorial Convention Hall’s free testing from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., the county’s free mobile testing van will be at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center on Wednesday, Kilauea on Thursday and Kalaheo on Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“If you are experiencing symptoms, please avoid the Convention Hall site and get tested at one of the drive-thru options,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said.

Free drive-thru testing can be found at the Lihu‘e Pharmacy, seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Appointments are recommended, walk-ins are welcome. For an appointment, visit PreventCovidHI.com. More options can be found at kauai.gov/COVIDtest.
Source: The Garden Island

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