Today is the first day since the Hawai`i Department of Health began identifying new positive cases of the coronavirus on Feb. 28, that the state has not reported any new cases.
DOH officials say that while this is good news, it does not mean, in any way, the end of the COVID-19 crisis.
“We have seen a steady decline in new cases over the past several weeks, although today we’re at zero, we want to maintain these declines,” said Hawai‘i State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “As businesses reopen, as people become more active and travel more freely, we will inevitably see an increase in cases.”
Health experts indicate that while Hawai‘i is fortunate to have this pause, it should be used to reassess response capacity, preparedness plans, and to ensure the state is ready for a second and potentially larger wave of the disease.
Of particular concern now, is Hawai‘i residents resuming travel to the mainland, particularly to COVID-19 hotspots.
“Travel continues to pose a risk for the spread and reintroduction of the coronavirus,” Dr. Sarah Park said. “This risk is not just posed by visitors. Residents can actually pose a greater risk by unknowingly infecting others. When people travel for entirely appropriate and necessary reasons (work, healthcare, significant family events) they can inadvertently bring the infection home.”
Park and other health experts say this is why it is critically important for everyone, both visitors and residents, to observe the mandatory traveler 14-day self-quarantine. It protects our community.
The State is again emphasizing that Hawai‘i is not a “me first” culture, but a culture of “we.” This philosophy is what’s allowed control of the COVID-19 pandemic up until this point. Hawai‘i residents particularly respect our kupuna and others who may be more susceptible to this serious disease.
For that reason, DOH says the strongest defense we have against the future, rapid increases in COVID-19 cases is dependent on everyone’s consistent observation of safe practices.
- Wear a mask when you are outside your home.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Keep a distance of 6 feet from non-household members.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces often.
- And stay at home when you are sick.