Health Director Discusses Absence and Current State of COVID-19 in Hawai`i

State Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson discussed media reports about his absence at today’s news briefing. He said, “I know many of you have been asking about the brief rest break I took last week for a few days. Let me explain that I needed some time to rest and rejuvenate, and I appreciate the Governor granting me that brief time to rest, since we have all been at this non-stop since the pandemic began. Let me reassure you that I am at work, directing the Department of Health’s response and Dr. Sarah Park is at work continuing to guide our disease outbreak control measures. We all need a break periodically to keep working at our optimum level and to be effective.” 

Anderson added that while the high number of cases is concerning, Hawai‘i is seeing a leveling or plateauing of the numbers and they do not appear to be rising or increasing at this time. He calls this a hopeful development but reminded everyone that case numbers can increase quite quickly. He said, “When we all work together to reduce the spread of the virus, we will see a decrease in the number of new positive cases. City & County of Honolulu restrictions and enhanced enforcement will also help, and it may be a few weeks before we see the results of those actions.” 

Anderson concluded that there is no amount of contact tracing that can reduce the number of cases if, first, people continue to spread the disease by gathering and not using masks or physical distancing. Many of the cases being investigated now are people who attended multiple large gatherings and then proceeded to work while ill. They folks let their guard down and spread the virus throughout O‘ahu. Anderson said, “Together, we can bring the numbers down by not gathering and avoiding close contact with others. Businesses who control their customer interaction will help to control the spread.   

Now workplaces and office spaces must also support their employees in keeping their guard up especially during rest times, breaks, and socializing.” 

DOH continues to work with the counties to conduct outreach and other measures to support those who are affected at a higher rate by COVID-19 in Hawai‘i such as Pacific Islanders and large families who live in crowded conditions. 

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