(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi Department of Health on Monday reported that it has
detected the COVID-19 variant that has been identified in more than a dozen U.S. states. From the DOH:
The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) State Laboratories Division (SLD) has detected the SARS-CoV-2 variant L452R. This strain of COVID-19 was first detected in Denmark in March 2020. It is now found in more than a dozen U.S. states.
Science has not shown the L452R variant spreads more quickly or poses a greater threat than other COVID-19 strains, but there is concern because it has been linked to a growing number of cases in California including several large outbreaks.
“It is common to find variants to viruses like COVID-19. Some present greater risks than others.” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, acting state epidemiologist. “We are working with our colleagues in other states as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more about the characteristics of this particular variant.”
The department’s State Laboratories Division began genome sequencing in June looking for possible COVID-19 variants. It now examines 75 specimens a week and has developed a testing algorithm designed to find variants as soon as possible after they arrive.
The B.1.1.7 variant first found in the United Kingdom and the B.1.351 variant first found in South Africa both have enhanced transmissibility. Neither B.1.1.7 nor B.1.351 has been detected in Hawai‘i.
“Hawai‘i is not immune to new strains,” said Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char. “The arrival of L452R reminds us we must wear masks, maintain physical distance from people outside our immediate households, and avoid crowds. These safe practices coupled with COVID-19 vaccines will help us stop the spread.”
There were 123 newly reported cases of COVID-19 in the State of Hawaiʻi on Thursday. Of that, six (6) new cases were identified on the Big Island.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Health says there have been 102 cases of COVID-19 reported on Hawaiʻi island in the past 14 days.
On the health department’s zip code area map showing reported COVID-19 cases with onset dates in the past 14 days, there are only two (2) areas showing totals of over 10 cases:
- 96740 (Kona) – 37 cases
- 96704/96726 (South Kona) – 20 cases
The State of Hawaiʻi also reported that a records review has revealed sixty (60) COVID-19 related deaths. From the Department of Health:
The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) has identified and confirmed 60 previously unreported COVID-19 related deaths. These deaths were linked to COVID-19 after a thorough review of the DOH Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS). The deaths occurred in August through December, 2020 with 51 deaths reported on O‘ahu, six on Hawai‘i, and three on Maui.
A COVID-19 related death may not be identified by DOH if the individual passes away after their monitoring period with DOH has been completed and their healthcare provider did not report the death. Unreported deaths can be identified by EDRS if the underlying cause is listed as COVID-19 on the death certificate. However, reviewing death certificates can be a time-intensive process resulting in significant lags.
“Our close inspection of death certificates not only revealed 60 previously unreported deaths. It also uncovered flaws that led to delays in the current reporting system,” said Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char. “We are implementing changes to the process that will improve the timeliness of COVID-19 death reporting.”
Despite these newly identified deaths, Hawaii’s COVID-19 death rate remains among the lowest in the United States.
From the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense:
The Hawaii Department of Health reports six (6) new cases of Coronavirus with two (2) persons hospitalized on Hawaii Island. There have been no deaths reported in the last three weeks.
The Hilo Medical Center (HMC), North Hawaii Community Hospital (QNHCH), and Kona Community Hospital (KCH) are offering vaccine registration to individuals who are 75 and older. Please visit their websites for more information and to register.
Hawaii residents 75 years of age and older may also register for an appointment to be vaccinated by calling the Department of Health at 300-1120 from 9:00 am ‘til 3:00 pm Monday through Friday except for holidays.
Vaccine shipments arrive each week and the County of Hawaii is following the CDC recommendations for inoculating those individuals who are most likely to be exposed or in a high risk category. Please be patient as everyone will have the opportunity to be inoculated.
Please continue following the preventive measures of face masks, distancing, and limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people to help stop the further spread of Coronavirus.