A Message from the Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute: Keep Public Outdoor Spaces Open
Cases of COVID–19 continue to rise in Hawai‘i, and while it is imperative to implement restrictions to stop the spread, restrictions should be evidence-based. We understand the desire to create “bright lines” that are easy for the public to understand, but there are other ways to reduce the spread of COVID–19 without eliminating access to public outdoor spaces. Public trust is lost when policies seem to contradict national guidelines. Closing down all public parks, beaches, and trails is unnecessary, unsustainable, and harmful to our health.
- Exercise, the outdoors, fresh air, and sunshine are essential to health. Research indicates that exercise is not only good for immune health, but being outdoors and in the sunshine, in addition to mask-wearing, are factors that help to fight against viral infections.
- City parks provide equitable access to open space. Not all residents on O‘ahu have the ability to access outdoor space equitably. Many live in apartments without access to a yard. The CDC recommends access to open spaces as a way to greatly improve physical, emotional, and mental health.
- The crackdown at parks and beaches is authoritarian and polarizing. Honolulu Civil Beat reported that Honolulu Police Department (HPD) was issuing citations at empty parks, which does little to reduce the spread of COVID–19 in our community. Others in the article question why HPD couldn’t be tasked with enforcing restrictions on gathering sizes in outdoor spaces instead of a full shutdown. Further, the current order contradicts earlier messaging that transmission is less likely in open-air spaces and encourages people to gather in enclosed spaces such as restaurants or movie theaters while banning access to public outdoor spaces.
Restrictions are needed to help slow the spread of transmission as Hawaiʻi continues to see community spread. However, policies must be evidence based, data driven, and sustainable. It is also critical to have clear and consistent policies for everyone to understand and follow. Now is the time to reassess our current restrictions, restrict access where transmission is more likely, and reopen parks, beaches, and trails safely. We believe that allowing the public to retain access to the outdoors under safe conditions is essential to promote resilience, health and well-being.
Register for our next Public Health Action webinar on the emerging needs of childcare. Safe, affordable childcare is a necessity for working parents and an integral part of Hawaii’s economic recovery. You can also watch last week’s webinar on how universities in Hawaiʻi are working to ensure the safety of faculty, staff and students as they approach reopening.
Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA) is conducting a survey to identify important issues and problems that people across the state are facing. Please complete this 5-minute survey to help HIEMA ensure that your needs are identified and addressed.
Last week, Governor David Ige signed the 12th emergency proclamation, which extends the “Act with Care” order to September 30.
The 14-day travel quarantine for trans-Pacific travelers and people arriving on Hawai‘i Island, Maui County, or Kaua‘i has been extended until September 30. The pre-travel testing program for trans-Pacific travel has been delayed until at least October 1.
The eviction moratorium has also been extended through September 30. For questions, contact the Office of Consumer Protection at (808) 586-2634.
Free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Using CARES Act funds allocated through SB 126, eligible providers can now request free PPE from HIEMA though this website. After completing the initial qualification survey, you will get a password via email a couple days later to set up an account.
City and County of Honolulu
Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s latest emergency order, Act Now Honolulu – No Social Gatherings, further restricts social gatherings until September 16. In essence:
- Bars, parks, beaches, and trails are closed. People may only pass through to access the water for permitted ocean activities.
- No social gatherings. People from different households are not permitted to gather, including in private homes, lunch rooms, parks, conference rooms, etc.
- No groups larger than five anywhere, including restaurants, offices, museums and movie theaters. Businesses may allow more than five people if their space allows for social distancing, but groups congregating together are limited to five people or less.
- Face masks must be worn in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, including open-air malls and religious services. The only exception is if you are engaging in an outdoor physical activity and can practice social distancing. If in doubt, wear a mask or carry one with you.
If you have questions about the latest order, please call (808) 768-2489 or email email@example.com.
Hawai‘i County has partnered with six non-profit organizations for their Rent and Mortgage Assistance Program (RMAP) to provide up to $1,000 of assistance per month to eligible Hawai‘i Island residents. Program applications are available starting today, August 24, 2020. Visit the Hawai‘i County website under “Individual Grants for Housing Assistance” for eligibility information, required documentation, and how to apply.
The “Not Taking Chances” campaign aims to change social norms by modeling attitudes and behaviors to underscore the importance of wearing face masks and avoiding groups and social gatherings.
PUBLIC HEALTH TIP OF THE WEEK
Five months into the pandemic, many people are eager to resume some of their usual activities. However, COVID–19 never takes a break and is still a threat to our community. Based on the current evidence, we know that enclosed spaces, prolonged interactions, crowded spaces, and activities that spread respiratory droplets increase the risk of spreading COVID–19. It is important to weigh the risks and benefits of different activities, whether you are making decisions for yourself, your family, or a public official considering restrictions to stop the spread of COVID–19.
WEBINAR: WHAT EMPLOYERS NEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW ABOUT COVID–19 FEATURING LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR JOSH GREEN
The Hawai‘i Employers Council (HEC) is hosting a webinar on Thursday, September 3, 2020 from 11 AM to 12 PM with Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, where he will explain what employers should be doing and answer common questions. The webinar is free for HEC members and $20 for non-members.
CALL FOR PAPERS: HAWAI’I JOURNAL OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL WELFARE
The Hawai’i Journal of Health and Social Welfare is publishing a special issue on solutions to root causes at the intersections of chronic disease and COVID–19. They are looking for all types of articles, including original articles, reviews, viewpoints, and editorials. To be considered for the special issue, please send an unstructured 350-word, or less, abstract to chroniccondCovid@gmail.com by midnight, September 28, 2020. Click here to view the flyer with more information.
DISCOUNTED INTERNET FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES
Spectrum and Hawaiian Telcom are offering discounted internet home internet services for qualifying households. Click here for information on Spectrum Internet Assist program and here for information on Hawaiian Telcom’s Internet Kokua program.
Keiki Heroes is a Hawai‘i STEM Community Care project that emphasizes keiki can be heroes by helping to protect those who care for them. Follow the stories of Kai and Hoku as they discover their “super powers” that help to keep their community safe. Additional resources are available for parents and teachers, such as coloring sheets, flyers and posters.
JOB OPPORTUNITY: COVID CARE COORDINATION ASSOCIATE
The Department of Health (DOH) Behavioral Health Administration Hawai‘i CARES Center is recruiting and employing COVID Care Coordination Associates in support of the Isolation and Quarantine Unit as part of the DOH COVID Response Efforts. To apply, please log in with a Gmail account, submit your resume and complete the short application: https://forms.gle/
SHARE YOUR STORY WITH SENATOR HIRONO – PPE SHORTAGES
Senator Mazie Hirono is seeking stories and information about the challenges that Hawaii’s health care providers will face—or are already facing—with getting sufficient supplies of PPE, medical equipment, and other federal support to respond to the pandemic.
These stories and information will be used to help build the public case for additional resources and may be included in public remarks by the Senator, social media, or other public documents and materials. If you have a story you are willing to share please email PPEshortages@finance.senate.
DO YOU HAVE RESOURCES OR INFORMATION ON COVID–19 TO SHARE?
If you have any resources or updates we should include in our next bi-weekly email or website, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: Due to the Labor Day holiday, the next COVID–19 update will be released on Tuesday, September 8.