After the first incidents of community spread of coronavirus were reported in Hawaii, the state government is considering suspending all non-essential travel to the archipelago and to quarantine arrivals there.
Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green, who is also an emergency room physician, said Saturday that the government in Honolulu is prepared to ramp up protective measures over time.
"Right now our order today is going to be next few hours to shut down any travel to Hawaii unless you live here or you are essential healthcare personnel," Green said.
He said that of Hawaii's 37 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 35 have come from travel to the mainland United States and other places around the world. However, he maintained that Hawaiians love welcoming travelers from across the country and around the world to the famous vacation destination.
Green praised President Trump for suspending travel to the U.S. from China, as Daniel Inouye International Airport is a hub for eastbound travel from affected parts of Asia.
Green said he was also concerned about infected travelers on cruise ships docking in the state and was happy to hear that such travel was also suspended.
From his experience as a physician, Green said that the government must look through the "health lens" when fighting the pandemic.
"[S]low the spread, test every contact -- what they did in South Korea, Japan, where they succeeded. We can't let what happened to Italy happen to America," he said. "That's why you are seeing stronger leadership up across the board to say shut it down, slow the spread."
He said that Hawaii's full-time population is only 1.4 million, while the tourist population balloons that number to near 10 million. That being said, he warned that there are only 561 ventilators and 2,000 hospital beds total in the state -- which has to strike a balance numerically when preparing to treat both the resident and expected tourist population.
Green also said the state is concerned about the virus' mortality rate on Hawaii's Kupuna, or senior citizen population.
"[They] have a mortality rate as high as 8 percent if they are over 75 and as high as 14.4 percent if they're over 80," he said.
Green added that Gov. David Ige, a fellow Democrat, is also in favor of the travel restrictions and other measures and that the state beaches have all been closed as a precaution already.