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Kauaʻi Mayor Says 'We Need People to Stay Healthy'

Derek Kawakami kauai mayor
Caleb Jones/AP
Kauaʻi Mayor Derek Kawakami reads in his office in Lihue, Hawaiʻi, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

Mayor of Kauaʻi Derek Kawakami is urging residents and visitors to heed the directive from State Health Director Libby Char: mask up and get vaccinated.

The surge of coronavirus cases in recent weeks has put a strain on hospitals, medical workers and emergency services across the state.

"We talk regularly with our hospital system here on Kauaʻi and I know that all the hospitals have been pushed to the red line," Kawakami said. "For us, we're very aware of that."

The island's hospital system had 11 intensive care unit beds available, as of Tuesday, but they also have surge capacity available.

"We could have 100 ICU beds, that's not the problem. The problem is having skilled staff and ICU nurses, because it is specialized, that are able to treat patients in those beds and not get burnt out as well," he said. "We need people to stay healthy and we do have a lack of ICU nurses."

Wilcox Medical Center is slated to receive additional medical staff through federal support, Kawakami reported.

"I don't think anybody has to really look hard to see that we have a lot of cases. We have a lot of kids that are starting to get sick," he told Hawaiʻi Public Radio. "Kauaʻi fortunately, so far knock on wood, has had a rather low hospitalization rate. Many people are recovering. But unfortunately, we're starting to see some fatalities — recently we had two."

This interview aired on The Conversation on Aug. 17, 2021.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at
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