(BIVN) – The Hawai‘i Department of Health reported 27 new positive cases of coronavirus today at noon, which is the highest number reported since April 2.
Of the 789 cumulative cases of COVID-19 identified in the State of Hawaiʻi, 551 have been reported on Oʻahu, an increase of 25 cases from the day before. A new case was also identified on Maui, and also on Kauai, according to the noon update from health officials.
There remains only two (2) active cases of COVID-19 on Hawaiʻi island. No new cases were identified on the island Friday.
State officials issued a media release in time for the noon update, saying that despite the latest spike in cases, all systems are “working as planned.” The State of Hawaiʻi wrote:
Health Director Bruce Anderson said, “Despite our recent spike in cases, all of our testing and contact tracing procedures are working exactly as intended. Additional cases are being identified and added to the case count as a result of aggressive investigations, contact tracing and testing of household contacts.”
The majority of new cases reported over the past week are associated with community clusters in large households with crowded conditions, adult care and long-term nursing facilities, and home gatherings. Hawai‘i State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park, commented, “These clusters really emphasize our call for the continuation of safe practices, including physical distancing, using face coverings, frequent hand washing, and staying home and away from others when sick. Virtually all of the newly reported cases of COVID-19 are due to community-spread, often from a group setting.”
Many of the recent cases have been associated with clusters. One faith community in Waipahu, having gatherings in a home, has prompted health authorities to reiterate safe practices for people meeting together in crowded conditions. Guidance, prepared by the City and County of Honolulu, based on best practices from sources such as DOH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and from research institutions and municipalities across the country is available online. The complete City and County guidance.
There has been speculation that the recent rise in cases is due to large protests. Dr. Park added, “At this time there is no evidence that recent protests have led to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i. Nonetheless, we continue to strongly encourage physical distancing and the use of face masks when people are engaged in practicing First Amendment rights, or while in any other large gatherings, with people who don’t live in the same household.”
The health department says testing is based on a low threshold to test. In other words, once a resident or caregiver tests positive and the health investigation determines the source of infection, DOH supports broader testing of exposed healthcare givers and residents in conjunction with public health investigation. Part of DOH’s investigation procedure continues to be extensive contact tracing to get close contacts of an infected person into isolation and monitoring. The department and its partners continue to conduct outreach and education for impacted individuals and communities.
Dr. Anderson concluded, “we anticipated an increase in COVID-19 cases associated with more community activity and business re-openings. This is the critical time, with this week’s resumption of interisland travel and the anticipated re-opening of other air travel at some point in the future, for all of us to act with care, to protect our loved ones, particularly our kupuna, and to continue physical distancing, face masks, and all of the safe practices that have now become our new norm…at least for now.”
(UPDATE) Governor David Ige provided the following statement on today’s COVID-19 numbers:
Today’s spike in positive cases was anticipated as we began the process to re-open our community. It is still manageable, but it serves as a reminder that we must continue to be vigilant in the battle against COVID-19, especially because of the potential harm that the virus can cause to our most vulnerable populations.
We are well-prepared to handle this level of new cases. We have good capacity for testing, contact tracing and care within our hospitals and other healthcare facilities. In addition, the increase in cases is a clear sign that our contact tracing and testing programs are working and we’re finding more COVID-19 in our communities.
It’s critically important that we slow the spread of the disease by continuing the safe practices that have become the new norm. The reopening of our communities and our ability to remain open depend on how successful we are at preventing surges that could overwhelm our healthcare system.
Passenger Arrivals By Air (Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority)
Yesterday, 1,767 people arrived in Hawaii. During this same time last year approximately 35,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily, including residents and visitors. Yesterday marked 12 weeks since the state’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine started for all passengers arriving in Hawaii from out of state. This table shows the number of people who arrived by air from out of state yesterday and does not include interisland travel. This data was collected from the Hawaii Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Mandatory Travel Declaration Form.