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VIDEO: Hawaii officials caution ‘worst is yet to come’ despite dip in new confirmed coronavirus cases

  • DENNIS ODA / MARCH 21
                                Drivers drive through Kakaako Waterfront Park to be screened and tested for the coronavirus.

    DENNIS ODA / MARCH 21

    Drivers drive through Kakaako Waterfront Park to be screened and tested for the coronavirus.

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Hawaii saw its lowest daily total of new coronavirus cases in 10 days, but state health officials are urging residents not to let their guards down.

The state’s positive COVID-19 rate has remained steady at roughly 2.7% since late last week with nearly 14,000 tests so far, and fell to 16 new cases Monday from 20 Sunday and 34 on Saturday. However, officials reported the fifth death and first on Maui in a resident with underlying health conditions.

“This is certainly a tragic reminder of how serious a threat COVID-19 is to everyone. It is a contagious and very virulent virus,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson. “This is not to be assuming that the disease is on a downward trend. Typically on weekends you see a decrease in the number of cases simply because reports are not submitted as quickly as they are during the week and I think the worst is still yet to come.”

Some models predict a peak in the number of cases before the month’s end, and health officials say it is critical for residents and visitors to keep a 6-foot distance at all times and quarantine for 14-days if entering the state.

Hawaii is expected to receive tomorrow 15 Abbott rapid COVID-19 testing instruments and test kits that allow quick processing of samples. However, only five test kits are expected to be delivered each of which can test 24 individuals over the next week, or a total of 120 people.

“Test kits will be rationed in a way that we only expect one of shipment of five test kits each week for the foreseeable future,” Anderson said. “We’re trying to get additional kits, but there’s a huge backlog in the number of kits available.”

There are 56 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, an increase from about 25, said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. He didn’t know how many were on ventilators that help provide oxygen to patients in respiratory distress from complications of the coronavirus, but said that there’s a 50/50 chance of being intubated when in the intensive care unit. There’s also a 50/50 chance of dying in that circumstance, he said.

“Don’t relax social distancing, that’s the thing that’s going to save us the most,” Green said. “For every 100 people that’s been affected, about one person ends up being in critical condition.”

UPDATE: 2:45 p.m.

Gov. David Ige held a press conference this afternoon to discuss the latest coronavirus updates in Hawaii.

Watch the videos below

Lt. Gov. Josh Green gave a breakdown of hospital numbers statewide during the press conference.

>> There are 2,757 hospital bed in the state. 1,331 are occupied

>> There are 338 ICU beds. 106 are currently filled

>> There are 535 ventilators available statewide, 81 are being used

Green also called out people are still gathering in groups and having parties.

“Please know that is a selfish thing to do,” Green said.

Previous coverage

Hawaii Department of Health officials said today that the state’s tally of coronavirus cases has risen to 387, up 16 from Sunday and including Hawaii’s fifth fatality.

Of all the confirmed cases in Hawaii since the start of the outbreak, 26 have required hospitalizations, with five new hospitalizations reported today, health officials said.

Earlier today, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino announced the county’s first fatality, an older man with underlying health conditions. It was Hawaii’s first virus-related death outside Oahu, which has seen four deaths.

Sixteen new Hawaii COVID-19 cases is the lowest daily increase in 10 days, and state and local officials continue to stress the importance of adhering to stay-at-home orders, social distancing, frequent hand-washing and other measures to reduce the spread of the disease throughout the islands.

Today’s statewide total includes 292 cases on Oahu, 44 in Maui County, 23 on Hawaii island, and 17 in Kauai County, according to health officials.

The statewide total also includes two Hawaii residents diagnosed outside of the state.

In all, state officials today reported 11 new cases on Oahu, and one each on Hawaii island, in Maui and Kauai counties. Nine cases in the statewide total are pending identification of county, which include two new cases reported today.

A total 89 patients have recovered since the start of the outbreak, with health officials reporting four new recoveries today. By county, Honolulu has seen 64 patients recover, Maui has had 11 recoveries, the Big Island has had nine and Kauai has seen five, as of noon today, the Health Department says.

Of the 26 hospitalizations in the state, 21 have been on Oahu, four on Maui and one on Kauai.

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Editor’s Note: This story is developing and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

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