Oahu on Saturday recorded the third straight day of triple-digit new coronavirus cases — fueled in part by a growing outbreak at Halawa Correctional Facility — as the state surpassed 20,000 total infections since start of the pandemic.
“While much of the attention lately has been around vaccines, our metrics are trending in the wrong direction,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a tweet. “I know we’re tired, but we cannot ignore this surge.”
Hawaii health officials reported 156 new coronavirus infections statewide, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 20,015 cases. The state’s official coronavirus-related death toll remains at 281 with no new deaths noted Saturday.
The new cases include 116 on Oahu, 21 on the Big Island, 14 on Maui, one on Kauai and four Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state.
Oahu’s case count includes 55 inmates at the Halawa Correctional Facility who tested positive out of 238 recent tests, the state Department of Public Safety reported Saturday. In addition, eight staff members at the facility tested positive.
So far 327 Halawa inmates have tested positive for COVID, all but two of those cases considered active and in medical isolation, DPS said.
“Surge testing, with the assistance of the Department of Health and Hawaii National Guard and Project Vision Hawaii, will continue until there are no new positive cases at the facility,” according to a DPS news release.
Prior outbreaks among Hawaii’s inmate population include 450 cases at Oahu Community Correctional Center, 213 at Waiawa Correctional Facility and 633 at Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., where one Hawaii inmate died of coronavirus.
As statewide numbers continue to trend upward, Lt. Gov. Josh Green urged Hawaii residents to skip large gatherings during the holidays.
“I need to be clear and direct with all of us across the state. We have to prevent any large spread, and the way to do that is to not have any significant gatherings,” Green said in an Instagram post Saturday. “Please, no large gatherings whatsoever over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday.”
The official state Department of Health coronavirus- related death toll includes 217 fatalities on Oahu, 44 on Hawaii island, 17 on Maui, one on Kauai and two Hawaii residents who died on the mainland.
Nationally, the coronavirus death toll was more than 315,000 Saturday with infections rising to over 17.5 million since the start of the pandemic.
The statistics released Saturday reflect new cases reported to the Health Department through 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
Health officials counted 6,046 new COVID-19 test results, for a 2.58% statewide positivity rate.
Saturday’s seven-day average case count for Oahu is 95 and the positivity rate is 3.4%, according to Caldwell.
To move to less- restrictive Tier 3 from the current Tier 2, the seven- day average of new cases must be below 50 on two consecutive Wednesdays. Also, the seven-day average positivity rate must be below 2.5% on those two Wednesdays.
A breakdown of coronavirus cases by island since the start of the outbreak shows 16,876 cases on Oahu, 1,790 in Hawaii County, 760 on Maui, 137 on Kauai, 106 on Lanai and 22 on Molokai. Additionally, 324 Hawaii residents were diagnosed outside the state.
Hawaii health officials said that of the state’s total infection count, 1,529 cases are considered to be active. Health officials say they consider infections reported in the past 14 days to be a “proxy number for active cases.” The number of active cases in the state rose by 40 on Saturday.
By island, Oahu has 1,186 active cases; Maui, 167; the Big Island, 156; Kauai, 17; and Molokai three, according to the latest tally.
Of all the confirmed Hawaii infection cases, 1,405 have required hospitalization, with 11 new hospitalizations reported Saturday by state health officials.
According to the latest information from the department’s Hawaii COVID-19 data dashboard, a total of 60 patients with the virus were in Hawaii hospitals as of noon Friday, with 16 in intensive care units and seven on ventilators.
While vaccinations began last week for health care workers and other priority groups, testing for COVID- 19 is ongoing throughout the state. The University of Hawaii’s Tropical Medicine Clinical Laboratory, along with the Filipino CARES Project and several churches and community organizations, are sponsoring one of the last testing sessions of the year, targeting Filipino communities.
Various churches on Oahu will be holding testing events today at three churches: Co-cathedral St. Theresa in Kalihi, Sacred Hearts in Waianae and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ewa Beach. (More information on the events can be found on the Tropical Medicine Clinical Laboratory website.)
As an alternative to invasive nasal swabs, S&G Labs of Hawaii announced that saliva COVID-19 testing will become available starting Monday in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii island. Testing will be available from 5 to 7 p.m. weekdays and 3 to 6 p.m. weekends.