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Hawaii sees third consecutive record high of new coronavirus-related cases

  • JAMM AQUINO / MAY 2
                                A testing specimen is secured during a drive-thru COVID-19 testing by Kalihi Kai Urgent Care.

    JAMM AQUINO / MAY 2

    A testing specimen is secured during a drive-thru COVID-19 testing by Kalihi Kai Urgent Care.

Hawaii Department of Health officials today announced a third consecutive daily record — 73 new coronavirus-related cases, exceeding Friday’s previous high of 60 cases.

Today’s new cases included 68 on Oahu and five on Maui, bringing the statewide total number of infections since the start of the outbreak to 1,620. As a result of updated information, health officials removed two Oahu cases from the tally.

“Thursday’s, Friday’s, and today’s numbers demonstrate the relaxation of safe practices from the 4th of July, particularly on Oahu, may have been one primary reason for these daily new records,” state Health Director Bruce Anderson said in a new release. “We’re beginning to see more cases among younger to middle-age adults; many who relay stories of attending gatherings, parties, events, or socializing at bars.”

Today’s statewide coronavirus case total includes 1,291 on Oahu, 146 in Maui County, 117 on Hawaii island, and 43 in Kauai County, according to health officials. The total also includes 23 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside of the state.

The 73 new cases represent nearly 6 percent of the 1,262 new test results counted in today’s tally.

Health officials have reported 26 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the outbreak.

As of today, 427 infections in Hawaii are active cases, with a total of 1,167 patients now classified by health officials as “released from isolation,” or more than 72% of those infected. Nineteen new release cases were reported today. The category counts those infected people who have met the criteria for being released from isolation.

Of all the confirmed Hawaii cases since the start of the outbreak, 161 have required hospitalizations, with five new hospitalizations reported today, health officials said.

Two hospitalizations in the statewide count are Hawaii residents who were diagnosed and treated outside the state. Of the 159 hospitalizations within the state, 128 have been on Oahu, 26 on Maui, four on Hawaii island, and one on Kauai.

By county, Honolulu has seen 892 patients released from isolation, and Maui has had 124 patients released. Hawaii island has nine active infections, while Kauai County none.

With the approaching Hurricane Douglas on track toward Hawaii, state officials said there are 625 people across statewide currently in isolation or quarantine as a result of exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Officials said they expect the number of people in quarantine or isolation will increase by the end of today.

Honolulu plans to open up to 25 shelters for people seeking refuge from Hurricane Douglas. In response to the storm, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Friday signed an emergency proclamation to allow indoor gatherings to exceed 50 people as many might need to evacuate to a hurricane emergency shelter.

State Epidemiologist Sarah Park said multiple coronavirus-related clusters have been associated with Fourth of July gatherings, birthday parties, religious functions, work meets, sports events and funerals.

“Our investigations and contact tracing show in many of these settings people have relaxed their physical distancing and use of facial coverings,” she said in a news release.

The state Laboratories Division will not be conducting COVID-19 testing Sunday due to the approaching storm. Testing is expected to resume late Monday or Tuesday, state officials said. The statewide curve is gradually increasing as a result of the positivity rate in Honolulu, Park said.

“The rate of new cases, particularly on Oahu, is greater than the rate of increased testing that is occurring,” Park said.

Of the 114,052 coronavirus tests conducted so far by state and clinical laboratories in Hawaii, just 1.4% have been positive.

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Editor’s Note: This story is developing and will be updated again this afternoon.

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