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Hawai‘i Officials Urge Safe Behavior, Increased COVID Enforcement as Hospitals Reach Limits

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Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige and the mayors of the four major counties urged residents to adhere to current COVID safety rules, and warned that police would enforce those rules over the holiday weekend.

They held a hybrid press conference at the State Capitol in Honolulu today. They were joined by The Queen's Health Systems president and CEO Dr. Jill Hoggard Green.

Kaua‘i Mayor Derek Kawakami warned about the critical juncture of the Labor Day weekend.

"What we choose to do over the next 72 to 96 hours is going to determine a lot within the next two to three months on whether we start to continue to burn our hospital systems, burn out our healthcare workers, keep our kids in school, keep our businesses running and moving on with moving forward and coexisting with COVID-19," Kawakami said.

The County of Kaua‘i established $250 fines for individuals and $500 fines for businesses breaking the state's emergency COVID rules. That includes mask wearing, gathering sizes, restaurant and bar guidelines, and events.

"Nobody likes to be told we're going to enforce, we're going to just mandate things," Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said. "But the reality is, right now, this is about community. This is about taking care of each other. This is not a time for individualism. You have no right to harm other people by virtue of being infected and infecting other people."

Honolulu Police Department Interim Chief Rade Vanic said they have additional officers proactively checking parks for large gatherings and will respond to indoor gatherings as well. He also discouraged other behavior that could be harmful, and said roadblocks would be setup over the weekend to catch drunk drivers.

At a Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 today, Healthcare of Association of Hawaiʻi CEO Hilton Raethel said there are currently 224 adult patients in the intensive care unit among hospitals across the state — 99 of them are hospitalized for COVID-19. Of those hospitalized with COVID-19, 85% are unvaccinated.

Every hospital in Hawaiʻi except for Tripler Army Medical Center and Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children on Oʻahu are at or over their ICU capacity.

The influx of ICU patients with COVID takes away staffing and care for patients who need to be hospitalized for other medical reasons, he said.

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