Hawaii hit another record number of daily coronavirus cases Friday with 60 new infections, mostly on Oahu, as residents prepare to hunker down ahead of Hurricane Douglas.
Gov. David Ige temporarily lifted the state’s mandatory 14-day travel quarantine to allow tourists to prepare for the storm, while Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued an emergency proclamation allowing gatherings of 50 or more people indoors as the city prepares to open shelters.
“As a last resort, you are allowed to break quarantine, but only to procure necessary supplies and materials,” Ige said. Caldwell urged residents to shelter in place this weekend.
Health officials reported 58 new cases on Oahu, one on Maui and a Hawaii resident diagnosed out of state, bringing the statewide number of infections since the start of the outbreak to 1,549. A previous case from Maui was removed from the total count as a result of updated information, the Health Department said.
The 60 positive cases equate to 4% of the 1,499 new test results counted Friday.
“We’re concerned that this relatively high level of cases is persisting on Oahu. Some of the cases we’re reporting today are associated with existing clusters, known cases and household spread, but others are new, unassociated cases that indicate increasing community spread,” state Health Director Bruce Anderson said in a news release. “In contact tracing, we continue to identify cases connected with gatherings or just hanging out with close friends. Until we all recognize the importance of physically distancing from people outside of their households and wearing masks, we face the prospect of even higher numbers.”
There are 375 active infections in Hawaii and 1,148 patients now considered recovered, or more than 74% of those infected.
Of all the confirmed Hawaii cases since the start of the outbreak, 156 have required hospitalization, including two Hawaii residents who were treated outside the state. There are 30 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized in Hawaii, with 13 patients in ICU and two patients on ventilators, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Friday.
On Thursday, officials reported the death of a female Oahu senior who contracted the virus, becoming the state’s 26th fatality, along with 55 new confirmed cases, or 2.2% of the 2,478 new test results reported that day.
The previous high since the start of the pandemic was 42 daily cases, reported July 11.
The Department of Health said it is bringing on additional contact tracers to help with new case investigations and contact tracing, though that will not prevent further community spread.
Nearly 450 individuals have been trained at the University of Hawaii’s contact tracing program and are available to be activated by the DOH as needed to trace contacts of COVID-19-positive cases.
“As we have over 400 contact tracers now trained to augment existing staff resources, we have sufficient reserves for that purpose,” said state Epidemiologist Sarah Park. “Nevertheless, contact tracing and testing alone will not control the spread of COVID-19. Everyone needs to adhere to the safe distancing recommendations and wear masks when near others. That is the only way we as a community are going to prevent the spread of this very infectious disease.”
Of the 112,790 coronavirus tests conducted so far by state and clinical laboratories, 1.4% have been positive, a slight increase from the 1.3% of recent weeks.