Hawaii experienced the longest lockdown in decades when the islands and businesses across them were shut as a result of the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic. Although the state was quite successful in bringing down infection rates, leading to a slow but steady resumption of normal activities, a second wave has brought Hawaii to a stand-still once again.

The first time around, the number of cases remained relatively low, peaking at around 1711 cases, out of which 165 required hospitalization. These cases were swiftly dealt with and handled by Hawaii’s excellent healthcare infrastructure, which includes testing and treatment facilities, public health interventions, governmental action, and the role of private and public healthcare providers.

However, we’ve observed an uptick in the number of people catching the coronavirus in the past few weeks, with the most recent statistics reporting 2591 new cases. These new circumstances have also led government organizations to prepare for new lockdown measures to curb the spread of the virus.

In light of recent decisions and actions, let’s look at some of the changes we’re likely to see:

The Government Will Initiate Strict Lockdowns

The Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii Josh Green has already expressed the administration’s intent initiate statewide lockdowns when the reports first started rolling in. It’s likely that entertainment businesses such as restaurants and  bars will have to let down their shutters once again until this passes. This renewed shutdown will have further ramifications for the economy of Hawaii and the mental health of local residents.

The Psychological Impact of Lockdown

As a result of the pandemic, reports of an increase in mental health issues, such as stress, depression, loneliness, and anxiety resulting from the economic pressure, social isolation, and uncertainty began to surface. While the easing of lockdown may have reduced the psychological impact of social distancing and self-isolation—its likely that people will have to stay strong as the lockdown is imposed again.

Impact On Business

Industries such as travel and tourism also had resumed operations, following strict SOPs and measures, including restricted inbound travel, testing, and assuring visitors and locals alike that the people theyll interact with are virus-free. However, the rising number of cases has prompted the government to push back re-opening Hawaii’s borders to the 1st of September instead of August.

We Must All Take Personal Protective Measures

It’s important that the people of Hawaii abide masking and social distancing requirements.  This is especially true for people who absolutely must leave their homes for work, or for general day-to-day activities.

Employers must also play an active role in reducing the number of cases by facilitating their workforce through remote work options and taking proactive measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Our CEO Donna Schmidt has offered some insights into these developments, “we have begun to provide Respirator Fit Testing, to support those in our community that are returning to work. Many employers are using N95 masks to protect employees from the corona virus. In order to ensure the N95 mask is providing the protection you expect, they need to be fit tested.

There are two parts to Respirator Fit Testing. First, before an employee can use a respirator or get fit tested, they must pass a medical clearance by a provider. This entails completing a medical clearance questionnaire and being seen by a provider. Once the employee is medically cleared, they move on to the actual fitting of the respirator.  

Then there are two types of fit tests, qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative test is utilized for N95 fit tests. It uses the sense of taste and smell to determine if the mask forms a secure seal between the mask and skin. At UCH, we use saccharin or Bitrex spray which will leave a sweet or bitter taste if the mask is not sealing securely.   It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. For tight-fitting respirators the quantitative tests use a machine to measure the leakage.”

Digital Service Provision Will Thrive Across Industries

As Hawaii goes into lockdown again, increase in E and M-Commerce, and greater technological dependence and advancement will remain the norm. Among these businesses is our own, as we introduce state-of-the-art urgent care telemedicine services to our clients.

It’s a part of our responsibility as a business to ensure the safety of our healthcare providers, technicians, and clients alike. For many of the services that require consultations and history, we are offering comprehensive telemedicine and continue to offer walk-in and in-person appointments in cases where they’re necessary.

Like many of the businesses in the region, we’re working consistently to improve customer service and care and make patient management better. If you’d like to know more or book an appointment online, visit our portal.

There was a time when we could only wonder what things would be like when the second-wave hit, but now it’s become clear that we need to remain vigilant. Perhaps we can recreate our initial success with viral containment if we take the right steps to ensure that we or others around us do not infect people by following the rules set out by governing authorities and the medical community.