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COVID-19 cases declining among Hawaii public school students and staff

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Downward trending numbers of COVID-19 cases in Hawaii, along with vaccinations for teachers and other school staff, were reflected in the Department of Education’s weekly update on coronavirus infections, with only five new cases among students and employees for the week ending Friday.

The cases included one employee each in the Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua and Campbell-Kapolei complexes, and one student each in the Castle-Kahuku and Kailua-Kalaheo complexes. Another case was a student in the Campbell- Kapolei complex who hasn’t been on campus all year.

A state Senate bill would require the DOE to publish a weekly report with the names of schools where individuals had tested positive for the coronavirus, instead of just the school complex, as is the current practice. SB 811 also would require DOE to provide dates for when test results were reported to schools and when the individuals were last on campus.

State Sen. Michelle Kidani, (D, Mililani-Waikele-Kunia), who introduced the bill, said reporting cases by complex areas can worry parents, who have a right to know whether their children’s schools have been affected by COVID-19.

In written testimony, Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said identifying specific schools would hinder the DOE’s ability “to protect individuals from being identified, harassed and socially discriminated, as well as the school’s ability to minimize school disruptions due to the increased level of inquiries beyond the immediate school community.”

The Senate Committee on Judiciary advanced the bill during a hearing Wednesday. If passed into law, the updated reporting requirement would go into effect July 1.

All told, the DOE reported 518 COVID-19 infections since June 26, including six involving noncampus staff. Here is a breakdown for the campus- related cases as of Friday:

>> Oahu: The Campbell-Kapolei complex reported the highest number of case statewide at 85, followed by Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua (49), Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani (48), Nanakuli-Waianae (45), Pearl City-Waipahu (44), Aiea-Moanalua-Radford (39), Kaimuki-McKinley-Roosevelt (37), Castle-Kahuku (29) and Kailua-Kalaheo (23).

>> Hawaii island: The Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala- Konawaena complex had 12 cases and the Hilo-Waiakea and Kau-Keaau-Pahoa complexes had seven each.

>> Maui: The Hana-Lahainaluna-Lanai-Molokai complex reported 44 cases and the Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui complex had 35.

>> Kauai: There were eight cases in the Kapaa-Kauai-Waimea complex.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health on Saturday reported 59 new corona­virus infections, bringing the state’s total since the start of the pandemic to 27,107 cases.

No new coronavirus-related deaths were reported, as the statewide death toll remained at 430.

The new cases include 35 on Oahu, 12 on Maui, two on Hawaii island and 10 residents diagnosed outside of Hawaii. The statistics reflect the new infection cases reported to the department on Wednesday.

Of the state’s total infection count, 668 cases are considered to be active, down 54 from the previous day’s total. Oahu has 468 active cases, Maui has 157, Hawaii island has 40, Kauai has one and Molokai has two, according to the state’s latest tally. Of all the confirmed cases, 1,830 have required hospitalization, with 15 new hospitalizations reported Saturday by state health officials.

According to the latest information from the department’s Hawaii COVID-19 Data dashboard, 42 patients with the virus were in Hawaii hospitals as of Friday morning, with 11 in intensive care units and seven on ventilators.

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