(BIVN) – There were 45 newly reported cases of COVID-19 in the State of Hawaiʻi on Monday. Of that number, ten (10) new cases were identified on the Big Island.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Health says there have been 49 cases of COVID-19 reported on Hawaiʻi island in the past 14 days.
Hawaiʻi County has seen an average 1.0% test positivity rate over the last 14 days, with an average of five new cases per day.
From the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense:
The Hawaii Department of Health reports ten (10) new cases of Coronavirus with one (1) person hospitalized on Hawaii Island. There have been no deaths reported in the last ten weeks.
The mandates requiring the preventive measures of wearing face coverings, maintaining 6 foot distancing and gatherings of no more than 10 persons continue for Hawaii Island. Please follow these measures so we can keep virus case numbers low. Currently the mandates apply to all persons that have been vaccinated for Coronavirus.
The Department of Health has opened vaccine registration to those 70 and older today. Medical facilities and pharmacies on Hawaii Island will continue to offer vaccine registration to individuals who are 75 and older. If you have questions regarding vaccine availability for your age group, please contact the Department of Health at 300-1120.
The Department of Health continues to coordinate vaccination points of distribution around the Island. For a list of all the facilities providing vaccinations visit the Civil Defense website.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Health reports there has been 406,857 cumulative doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in the State of Hawaiʻi, an increase of 15,741 from March 5, 2021.
Mayor Roth Eases Certain COVID Restrictions
Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth signed the Mayor’s COVID-19 First Amended Emergency Rule No. 14 on Monday, easing certain restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, including in an increase in the allowable number for outdoor gatherings from 10 to 25 people.
“Our community has been working diligently to reduce the spread and keep our numbers low, and I believe that because of their ongoing efforts that it is safe to begin relaxing some of our restrictions,” said Mayor Mitch Roth in a news release. “These amendments will allow us to expand business operations slowly, get back to the recreational activities that keep us healthy and strong, and have functions where we can incorporate members of our extended ʻohana — safely.”
Highly Transmissible Variant Detected in Hawai‘i
From the Hawaiʻi Department of Health:
The Department of Health State Laboratories Division (SLD) has detected a new variant of concern. This new strain has the technical name B.1.351 and is sometimes referred to as the South African variant. It was found in an O‘ahu resident with no travel history.
“This is concerning because B.1.351 has a mutation that makes it more transmissible from one person to another, and a separate mutation that might make it less responsive to the antibodies we form when we have COVID or get vaccinated,” said SLD Director Dr. Edward Desmond.
The mutation that increases transmissibility is called N501Y. The mutation that may reduce effectiveness of antibodies is called E484K.
The N501Y and E484K mutations had previously been seen in Hawai‘i, but this is the first time both mutations have been found together in one virus.
“While theoretical concerns have been raised about whether vaccination will be effective against new variant strains, the real-world data so far are reassuring” said Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble. “A study in South Africa showed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was effective in preventing serious disease requiring hospitalization and in preventing death even where B.1.351 was the predominant strain.”
Two new cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, also known as the U.K. variant, also have also been found, for a total of eight B.1.1.7 variant cases detected in the state to date. This variant, first detected in Hawai‘i in early February, has the N501Y transmissibility mutation, but not the E484K mutation. The most recent cases of B.1.1.7 involve two O‘ahu residents, one who traveled to the mainland United States and a household contact of that individual.
Investigation into cases of recently detected variants is ongoing. Close contacts have been quarantined.
“Research shows community mitigation measures are effective in reducing the risk of transmission of even the most aggressive variants,” said State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char. “This means wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and washing hands is more important than ever. The effectiveness of vaccines in preventing serious illness or death means we should get vaccinated as soon as it is our turn.”
The SLD continues to perform genomic sequencing weekly on COVID samples from across the state in order to detect variant strains including strains of concern. This systemic search for variant strains is accomplished with the collaboration of private sector laboratories, to whom the SLD is grateful.