(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense issued a new radio message on COVID-19 on Friday morning, reporting sixteen (16) active cases on the Big Island. Here is the full message from civil defense:
On today’s update of COVID-19, the number of active cases monitored by the Department of Health is sixteen. There are four new cases of Coronavirus on Hawaii Island. These are now isolated and monitored by the Department of Health. At this date, for Hawaii Island, no one is hospitalized.
For your information, an `Ohana food service is scheduled today in South Kohala at the Kamakoa Nui State Park in Waikoloa Village. Distribution begins at 10:00am. A drive through testing is also scheduled in North Kona at the Keauhou Shopping Center. Hours are from 9:00am ‘til noon.
Hawaii Island numbers although still low have shown an increase throughout the island and we need your help to protect our community from the virus spread. People disregarding the policies of gatherings, distancing and face coverings has been identified as the cause for the increase of cases in the State of Hawaii. We need your help by following the policies of prevention. Thank you for doing your part to keep our neighbors, friends, family and community safe.
You are reminded that when traveling interisland the State of Hawaii is under a 14-day quarantine for inter-island travel. Information on the revised inter-island quarantine exemptions are available at the Civil Defense website or by calling Civil Defense at 935-0031.
As a reminder, do know the wearing of face masks is mandatory on the Island of Hawaii.
Here are some of the updates provided by the Hawaiʻi COVID-19 Joint Information Center on Thursday evening. The statements made by the various departments reflect the numbers reported yesterday.
Governor Addresses Recent COVID-19-Related Deaths, Record Number of Infections
Gov. David Ige held a news briefing Thursday, to address the recent COVID-19-related deaths and record number of cases reported by DOH. Gov. Ige said, “This is a record number of daily cases and it follows several days of triple digit case numbers. We are saddened by the news that two more of our community members have died from this disease. We are seeing numerous clusters and wide community spread. Clusters are occurring in all areas of the community and common work-place activities like sharing lunch in work rooms and water cooler conversations. These are natural person-to-person contacts that occur every day. We are facing a critical situation that could get out of control very quickly.” He also highlighted some of the clusters the State has been seeing and the efforts to enhance Hawai‘i’s contact tracing capacity.
The governor added that it’s been a week since the State re-instated some of the restrictions and two days since re-starting the inter-island travel quarantine. Gov. Ige said, “We hope that these measures will help control the virus. But if things do not get better, we will have no choice but to look at more restrictions. This could include going back to the stay-at-home orders. It also means that we may have to delay trans-Pacific travel. I know that going backwards will cause further harm to our economy, but we may have no choice. Before we can fix our economy, we need to fix our health. I know you’re frustrated. Everyone wants our lives to return to normal. You have sacrificed so much, and I am asking you to sacrifice even more. Remember that taking personal responsibility is still the best way to fight COVID-19. You all know what to do. Wash your hands, wear your mask, avoid large gatherings and stay home if you feel sick.”
Twenty Cases Under Investigation at IHS Shelter
At Thursday’s briefing it was also reported that the State and City and County of Honolulu is working with the Institute for Human Services (HIS) Sumner’s Men’s Shelter in Iwilei to isolate and quarantine individuals at the shelter, as 20 cases in connection with the shelter were under investigation by DOH. The Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness, Scott Morishige, said at the briefing that State, City, and other service providers have been planning for impacts of COVID-19 on the homeless population since early March. Morishige added, “As a result of our planning and coordinated effort, we have had almost no positive cases in the homeless community for the past five months. When IHS first learned of the positive cases, they notified DOH and worked quickly with them and the City to transition individuals into quarantine and isolation sites. Due to the close coordination and preparation, homeless services in our system can continue while IHS temporarily quarantines its Sumner St. location.” Outreach to homeless individuals to provide access to quarantine, testing and other services will continue. As a precaution, the State will also be temporarily suspending cleanups on State lands that adversely impact or may displace homeless individuals, with the exception of enforcement actions that are necessary to address immediate health and safety concerns.
Office of the Lieutenant Governor:
Update on Hospital Capacity
Lt. Gov. Josh Green addressed the spike in COVID-19 cases Hawai‘i has seen recently, saying, “While our new record daily number of 355 cases is startling, the current trend in new cases and hospitalizations is even more so, particularly for O‘ahu … Today we have more than 150 currently hospitalized for COVID-19, and 258 cumulative to date. Major and acute care hospitals on O‘ahu are already transferring patients and expanding ICU capacity to accommodate the growing number of COVID-19 positive patients. Many are reaching ICU capacity.” Statistics include:
137 out of 244 ICU beds in use (56%)
Of the ICU beds in use, 29 are COVID-19 positive
73 out of 459 ventilators in use (16%)
Of the ventilators in use, 22 are COVID-19 positive
Lt. Gov Green added, “The biggest takeaway today is that the surge in cases is now seriously threatening to overwhelm our hospitals and it’s coming fast. Individuals and our government need to mobilize now to drastically curb the spread of this virus and save lives.”
Department of Health:
Two Additional Deaths Reported, COVID-19 Case Count Reaches Record Number
Two O‘ahu men, both over 60-years-old are the latest victims of COVID-19. DOH also reported Thursday that there are dozens of newly diagnosed cases of coronavirus, which is part of an existing cluster, at the O‘ahu Community Correctional Facility (OCCC). The total count at the facility now stands at 105. DOH is also continuing its epidemiological investigation into a cluster of cases at Honolulu Hale, which now totals 11 individuals, who may have been infected during gatherings at offices during breaks or social get-togethers, according to employees who have been interviewed. DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson said, “With the virus actively being spread throughout the community on O‘ahu, congregate settings like prisons and institutions are at increased risk of introduction and should prepare as PSD and IHS have done. These agencies were ready and stepped into action quickly, working with the DOH on control and prevention measures to protect those at risk and the community. We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the latest people to succumb to this disease.”
DOH Deputy Director Danette Wong Tomiyasu also added, “Hawai‘i is at a critical juncture. We are receiving a record number of new positive cases. Clearly, we can do better. Hawai‘i’s people deserve better. There is an urgent need to do things differently. We need to turn the tide to protect the health and wellbeing of Hawaii residents and to reopen our state.”
Update on Contact Tracing Program, New Leader
DOH recently announced that the new Disease Investigation Branch Chief, Dr. Emily Roberson, would take over contact tracing at DOH. Tomiyasu said, “Dr. Roberson comes to us from Hawai‘i Pacific University, where she served as a professor, instructing public health students in epidemiology and developed the advanced degree programs in public health. She has hit the ground running. We’ve tasked her with making significant upgrades to the contact tracing program within two weeks.” Dr. Sarah Park had previously been leading the contract tracing program. Tomiyasu added “As you can imagine, we are all stretched. Dr. Park is still a part of DOH and will focus on other aspects of the pandemic. There is more than enough to do. We are fortunate that Dr. Park was able to recruit Dr. Roberson to fill this important role.”
Tomiyasu also outlined changes to the contact tracing program that Dr. Roberson is helping oversee, which includes automating processes to reduce workload for contact tracers, standing up a call center with support from outside agencies to help with case management, and building in real-time monitoring and rapid-cycle evaluation of procedures and messaging. Other statistics/activities include:
76 individuals working on contact tracing and investigations
9 additional staff providing supervision and other support
15 additional contact tracers and case investigation staff working this week on O‘ahu to investigate cases
21 additional personnel from the Hawai‘i National Guard providing assistance on O‘ahu
20 new contact tracers being onboarded from the UH training program, another 20 will begin onboarding process next week
Additional COVID-19 surge staff from other divisions within DOH assisting, including disease investigators, epidemiologists, nurses, etc.
Volunteers also assisting with contact tracing, data analysis, and other disease response activities via the Medical Reserve Corps, university internship programs, medical residency programs, nursing clinical rotations, and community volunteering partnerships
Additional space has been procured and equipped. Overtime is being compensated
Laboratory Testing Services Update
While contact tracing is a key component of tracking and preventing future COVID-19 cases in the State, DOH points out it’s just one tool the department uses. Another key component is testing. The Hawai‘i State Laboratories Division and private labs currently have a combined capacity of 8,000 tests each day. Tomiyasu said, “Hawai‘i has excellent laboratory services and good testing capacity; however, any nationwide shortages of testing supplies can be a looming threat to our local laboratory capacity. Delays in laboratory reporting can also affect our ability to investigate and trace cases.” DOH says it continues to investigate new and alternative testing procedures that meet national standards and accuracy requirements. In addition, DOH conducts routine laboratory surveys of state and private capacity to monitor this situation and plan for contingencies.