Hawaii saw its lowest daily total of new coronavirus cases in 10 days, but state health officials are urging residents not to let their guard down.
The number of new COVID-19 cases fell to 16 on Monday, down from 20 Sunday and 34 Saturday. However, officials reported the state’s fifth death and first on Maui, of an older man with underlying health conditions.
Lab results have shown roughly 2.7% of those tested in Hawaii have COVID-19. That rate has remained steady since late last week with nearly 14,000 tests completed.
Eighty-nine patients have recovered since the start of the outbreak, with health officials reporting four new recoveries Monday.
“This is not to be assuming that the disease is on a downward trend,” said state Health Director Bruce Anderson at the state’s daily coronavirus briefing. “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.”
The Maui death “is certainly a tragic reminder of how serious a threat COVID-19 is to everyone. It is a contagious and very virulent virus,” Anderson added.
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, wear masks in public and quarantine for 14 days if entering the state.
There are 56 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Hawaii, said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. He didn’t know how many of the hospitalized patients are on ventilators, which provide oxygen to patients in respiratory distress. There’s a 50-50 chance of being put on a ventilator if a patient is placed in an intensive care unit, and there’s a 50-50 chance of dying in that circumstance, Green said.
“Don’t relax social distancing. That’s the thing that’s going to save us the most,” Green said, calling out people who are still gathering in groups. “Please know that is a selfish thing to do. For every 100 people that have been affected, about 1 person ends up being in critical condition.”
Green is tracking medical capacity statewide as hospitals and medical facilities cancel or postpone elective surgeries and procedures in anticipation of a surge in cases. As of Monday, 1,331 of 2,757 hospital beds were occupied; 106 of 338 ICU beds were filled; and 81 of 535 ventilators were being used, he said.
With the 16 new cases Monday, the state’s tally of coronavirus cases climbed to 387.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino announced the county’s first fatality and the first virus-related death outside Oahu.
Whole Foods Market in Kailua announced one of its workers is a “presumed case of COVID-19,” though the employee has not been tested because “testing is currently unavailable.”
The Honolulu Police Department also reported that three officers have contracted the virus. Meanwhile, HPD has issued 4,660 warnings and 353 citations for emergency law violations, mostly at beach parks. There were also 26 arrests that were connected to traffic or criminal offenses. So far, no arrests have been for quarantine violations.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell imposed a stay-at-home order for Oahu on March 22, followed the next day by the governor’s statewide restrictions through April 30. Violation of the rules during a state of emergency is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and one year of imprisonment.
“Look at what’s happening in New York, Washington state, Louisiana and California. We can’t let this happen here. We need to stop the spread. We need to stop it now,” Ige implored at the news conference. “More drastic measures will be coming if people don’t listen to our mandates. The coronavirus has no boundaries. It’s infiltrated even Hawaii’s smallest communities.”