State briefs for April 26

Antiviral pills to fight severe COVID available

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii doctors, like physicians elsewhere in the U.S., have been prescribing antiviral pills to COVID-19 patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms of the disease. But only those at high risk of developing severe illness are eligible to receive the drugs.


Two brands of antiviral pills are available at pharmacies and health centers in the state with a doctor’s prescription, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. They are Paxlovid, which was developed by Pfizer, and Lagevrio, or molnupiravir, which was developed by Merck.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to both drugs. Both need to be prescribed and taken within a five-day window of the onset of symptoms.

Dr. Douglas Kwock, Hawaii Pacific Health’s vice president of medical affairs, said doctors have been prescribing the antiviral pills or therapeutics since January.

The pills are aimed at preventing severe infection, hospitalization and death, he said. They aren’t a cure for COVID-19 nor are they for anyone simply exposed to the coronavirus.

Patients must have high-risk conditions, like obesity or diabetes or be immunocompromised to be eligible.

“The treatment would involve a discussion with your primary care physician on whether you qualify or not, and even if you did, if it is something that would be beneficial,” Kwock said.

Tourists must make reservations to visit iconic site

HONOLULU (AP) — Out-of-state visitors will soon need reservations to visit one of Hawaii’s most recognizable natural sites.

State land officials announced Monday the new policy for Diamond Head State Monument will take effect on May 12.

The iconic ancient volcanic crater stands at the end of Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu.

Diamond Head is the third state park to have such a rule. Non-residents must also make reservations for Haena State Park on Kauai and Waianapanapa State Park on Maui. Reservations are required at certain times to visit Haleakala National Park on Maui.

Diamond Head can get thousands of visitors per day. The park attendance record was set in 2019 when about 6,000 people came to the site in one day.

State officials said the new rules are needed to control damage to the environment and infrastructure, congestion on hiking trails, heavy vehicle traffic and illegal parking.

“We want to reduce the impact of visitors and really ensure that our residents have access to these desirable places,” Hawaii Gov. David Ige said during a visit.

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