The state recorded a triple-digit increase for the third day in a row as the number of coronavirus cases in the state continued surging.
The state Department of Health on Friday announced there were 123 newly diagnosed coronavirus cases, just one shy of Thursday’s record high of 124, bringing the total to 2,111.
On Wednesday there were 109 newly reported cases.
This triple whammy closed out July, and Hawaii is now among states where cases are rising the fastest, with the average seven-day rate now at about 80.
“We are really going through a large surge right now,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green during his daily flipboard update Friday, pointing out the steep, upward curve. “You have to follow this advice, please: Maximum gatherings of 10 people, no more; wear masks all the time when you’re around others except your immediate household; and then, expect a hospital surge coming in about two weeks based on these numbers.”
Of the new cases, 119 are on Oahu and four on Maui, which have the highest and second-highest numbers of coronavirus cases in the state.
The state Health Department also reported that 18 of the 123 new cases Friday were children, in addition to the 32 out of 124 cases Thursday — or 50 combined.
“It’s a serious concern, especially as we consider opening schools,” said Green in a text. “Globally only about 2% of confirmed cases have been children, but that may be because of testing bias. The good news is that our keiki are not very sick usually when they catch the virus. The bad news is they can spread it to parents and grandparents who do become very sick.”
On Thursday the state Board of Education voted to delay the start of the academic year from Tuesday to Aug. 17 to give school staff more time to prepare. In a flood of testimony, numerous parents warned it would be dangerous to send kids to school while the number of coronavirus cases was spiking in Hawaii, while others said they needed their children back in school for in-person instruction and to make up for the loss of instruction since March.
There also appears to be a growing number of cases spreading throughout Oahu.
During the week, health officials advised patrons from two Honolulu bars to consult their physicians for testing due to an associated cluster, while a number of businesses — ranging from Foodland to Costco to First Hawaiian Bank — reported positive coronavirus cases among employees.
News emerged Friday of positive COVID-19 cases among employees from the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center on the leeward side to the Bank of Hawaii at Pearlridge to a Kamehameha Schools office at Kawaiahao Plaza to a Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam pass and ID office worker to several more firefighters assigned to the Hawaii Kai station.
Hawaiian Brian’s, re-branded as HB Social Club, said Friday in an online post that an infected patron had briefly been on its premises last weekend. The Honolulu social club already had closed down Wednesday night.
An employee of Hale Ku‘ike Bayside, an adult residential care home in Kaneohe, tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, as well, according to its management, and is self-isolating.
Gov. David Ige on Wednesday proposed reinstating some COVID-19 restrictions, including a limit for gatherings to 10 or fewer once again unless in controlled environments.
On Thursday, Ige signed off on another emergency order, “Ho‘oulu i Honolulu 5.0,” by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, shutting down Oahu bars for three weeks due to heightened public health concerns. In addition, restaurants may not sell or serve liquor on their premises after 10 p.m. daily.
Enforcement of the new order began Friday.
Health officials continued to emphasize the community’s personal responsibility in preventing the spread of the new coronavirus, and to “act with care” by wearing masks, maintaining 6 feet of physical distancing and avoiding large gatherings.
They also advised staying home when sick and keeping children home when sick.
The island breakdown for the 2,111 positive cases in the state as of Friday included 1,755 on Oahu, followed by Maui County with 171 cases, Hawaii island with 115 and Kauai County with 47. Another 23 residents have been diagnosed outside of Hawaii.
Some 123,251 individuals have been tested for COVID-19, including 1,883 in the latest batch. Based on positive results Friday, the 123 new cases represent 6.5% of those tested.
The state Health Department said it had 77 contact tracers as of Monday and that it planned to bring on 20 more in increments to deal with the increased volume of cases.
So far, 179 individuals with COVID-19 have required hospitalization.
Green said Friday 65 are currently hospitalized, with 14 in intensive-care unit beds and 10 on ventilators. So far, Hawaii has recorded 26 deaths due to COVID-19.