Hawaiʻi Mayors Share the State of COVID-19 in Each County
The Conversation last week spoke with each of Hawaiʻi's county mayors to learn how the COVID-19 surge is affecting their communities and health care systems. The mayors shared which pandemic-related restrictions they might be considering as hospitals fill up — and urged people to get vaccinated.
During the week that Hawaiʻi Public Radio spoke to them, the state's seven-day average was 671 new cases per day from Aug. 15 to Aug. 21. As of Monday, 62% of the state has been fully vaccinated, according to the dashboard.
Starting off the week was Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi who shared some troubling news about the strain on emergency services. He stressed that ambulance crews, and the ambulances themselves, are a finite resource.
Kauaʻi County Mayor Derek Kawakami urged residents and visitors to heed the directive from State Health Director Libby Char: mask up and get vaccinated. "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.
The Conversation talked to Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth about the latest hospital capacities, and possible restrictions if hospitalizations continue to increase. "What a lot of people don't realize is it's more than just COVID. When you have people waiting in the emergency rooms, that slows down service," he said. "We're right there at the edge."
Maui County's mayor said the possibility of another lockdown is still on the table, but he hopes more vaccinations and social distancing will slow the spread of cases before that might be necessary. Mayor Mike Victorino said last week the Maui healthcare system was at capacity, though it has the ability to expand the number of hospital beds if the COVID-19 surge continues.
Listen to each mayor's interview above and click the links to read more. All interviews aired on The Conversation between Aug. 16 and Aug. 19, 2021.