Hawaii recorded 202 cases of novel coronavirus and two more deaths Wednesday as various clusters of infection continued to pop up around Oahu and some clusters grew.
The case total is the latest in a two-week run of triple-digit daily counts that has some experts worried Hawaii’s health facilities soon could be overburdened by patients.
Wednesday’s COVID-19-related deaths, plus two others recorded late Tuesday — all men from Oahu — brought the Hawaii’s death toll to 38.
“If we can flatten the curve over the next five to seven days, we can avoid lockdown. Otherwise, we’re going to have to do all we can to stop this,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green told his followers on social media.
State health officials said the disease is continuing to be spread locally — and primarily around Oahu, including by some who are unsure how or where they became infected.
Officials on Wednesday identified multiple clusters of infection, including five at different restaurants. But each involved only a few employees, they said, and there is no evidence of any spread to customers.
Liliha Bakery apparently was one of the restaurants. On its Facebook page Wednesday, the company announced that it had learned one of its employees at its Kuakini location had tested positive.
“This employee worked in an isolated area and had no contact with any customers.” the post said.
The Kuakini restaurant was closed for cleaning and is expected to reopen today at 6 a.m.
Another potential cluster identified by officials was “an employee potluck” at Honolulu Hale. But a city spokesman later said no positive cases were linked to anyone who attended the “retirement meet and greet” late last month.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell shut down Honolulu Hale to the public effective Tuesday after he announced Monday that he learned that morning of a cluster of 11 employees, including one from his own administrative staff.
Also on Wednesday, the Kokua Council released a statement accusing the state of failing to control the epidemic and demanding immediate action to protect the public and particularly vulnerable seniors.
The statement by the nonprofit group that advocates on behalf of seniors blasted the Department of Health for its “ineffective” contact tracing and inadequate baseline testing for seniors.
“Urgent action must be taken now, right now,” the statement said.
The deaths of two of the men, both over age 60, were reported Tuesday but included in Wednesday’s case counts. The third and fourth fatalities were men between 40 and 59, at least one of whom had underlying health conditions. Officials said investigations into the deaths will continue.
As for the 202 new cases, 197 were on Oahu. Hawaii island and Kauai each reported two additional cases, while Maui had one. There were 2,255 active cases statewide.
In other COVID-19 developments:
>> Seven more Oahu Community Correctional Center inmates tested positive, bringing the total number of inmates at OCCC with COVID-19 to 16. Seven guards also have tested positive at the jail, where testing is expected to continue through this week.
>> The Department of Education said a single case was confirmed at Waikele Elementary School. Another case at Keolu Elementary School had not been confirmed, but the school “was taking precautions to ensure the safety of our staff a nd community,” a spokesperson said.
>> An employee at the Family Court in Kapolei tested positive, the Hawaii State Judiciary announced Tuesday. The court is working with the Health Department to implement measures of response, including testing employees and cleaning.
In response to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases on Oahu, First Circuit Chief Judge R. Mark Browning issued an order on Monday that increased the number of proceedings to be conducted remotely by videoconference or by telephone.
>> A Campbell High School teacher, Mark Alan Cooper, 48, of Mililani, was arrested last week for violating the 14-day mandatory quarantine order after returning from a trip to Florida, the Associated Press reported. He was seen at a post office.
>> A 41-year old Honolulu cabbie, Hassan Yusef Mohamoud, was arrested for violating the 14-day quarantine order after he went shopping at a windward Oahu shopping center. He was booked and charged, and his bail was set at $2,000.
>> Hawaii Medical Service Association was notified that seven employees tested positive for COVID-19. None of the employees deal with the public and they do not work in any of HMSA’s neighborhood centers, the company said.
“The Hawaii State Department of Health and all HMSA staff have been notified, and we continue to take every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all our employees,” Christine Hirasa, vice president of communications, said in a statement.