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Hawaii records 2 new coronavirus-related deaths and 106 additional COVID-19 infections; Higher case count blamed on Maui lab reporting issues

                                Health care worker Jeffrey Lum administers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Pier 2 on Friday. According to data released by the Hawaii Department of Health as of Friday, 336,901 vaccines have been administered to the public out of the 417,590 vaccines received.
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Health care worker Jeffrey Lum administers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Pier 2 on Friday. According to data released by the Hawaii Department of Health as of Friday, 336,901 vaccines have been administered to the public out of the 417,590 vaccines received.

Hawaii Department of Health officials today reported two new coronavirus-related deaths and 106 new infections, bringing the state’s totals since the start of the pandemic to 439 fatalities and 27,503 cases.

State health officials are blaming the higher case count reported today due to laboratory reporting issues on Maui. They said 31 cases from Maui that occurred between Nov. 29 last year and Feb. 18 were not previously confirmed nor included in the current seven-day averages.

“The higher case counts on Maui also include 19 positive cases that are part of a current cluster at Maui Community Correctional Center, and a cluster at a community housing complex. Community spread is also the cause of smaller clusters related to food and drink establishments. Contact tracing, isolation and quarantine measures are being used to control these clusters. Vaccination is being offered at MCCC and in areas where outbreaks are a concern,” according to an emailed statement from state health officials.

Lorrin Pang, Maui District Health officer, warned of higher case counts ahead on Maui and urged everyone to take the increase in cases very seriously.

“We really need to ramp up compliance to safety protocols or the alternative would be really high case numbers in the coming week, possibly resulting in tighter restrictions,” Pang said in a statement.

Two of the latest Oahu deaths included a man in his 80s and another man in his 90s, both of whom had underlying health conditions when they were hospitalized. No further information was immediately available.

The state’s official coronavirus-related death toll includes 349 fatalities on Oahu, 53 on Hawaii island, 33 on Maui, one on Kauai, and three Hawaii residents who died outside the state.

The U.S. coronavirus-related death toll today was over 511,000 and the nationwide infection tally is over 28.5 million.

Today’s new statewide infection cases reported by the Health Department include 23 on Oahu, 75 on Maui, three on the Big Island and five residents diagnosed outside of Hawaii, officials said. As a result of updated information, state officials removed two cases from Oahu from the counts.

The statistics released today reflect the new infection cases reported to the department on Thursday.

The total number of coronavirus cases by island since the start of the outbreak are 21,913 on Oahu, 2,240 in Hawaii County, 2,196 on Maui, 183 on Kauai, 108 on Lanai and 27 on Molokai. There are also 836 Hawaii residents who were diagnosed outside of the state.

Health officials also said today that of the state’s total infection count, 623 cases were considered to be active. 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 increased by 10 today.

By island, Oahu has 324 active cases, Maui has 226, Big Island has 25, Kauai has four, and Molokai has one, according to the state’s latest tally. Lanai has no active cases.

Health officials counted 22,034 new COVID-19 test results in today’s tally, for a 0.48% statewide positivity rate. The state’s 7-day average positivity rate is 1.2%, according to the Hawaii COVID-19 Data dashboard.

Of all the confirmed Hawaii infection cases, 1,865 have required hospitalizations, with three new hospitalizations reported today by state health officials.

Six hospitalizations in the statewide count are Hawaii residents who were diagnosed and treated outside the state. Of the 1,859 hospitalizations within the state, 1,615 have been on Oahu, 129 on Maui, 101 on the Big Island, eight on Kauai, five on Lanai and one on Molokai.

According to the latest information from the department’s Hawaii COVID-19 Data dashboard, a total of 31 patients with the virus were in Hawaii hospitals as of this morning, with three in intensive care units and three on ventilators.

According to the state’s verified weekly Hawaii COVID-19 vaccine summary, 336,901 vaccines have been administered of the 417,590 received by the state as of Friday. About 14.4% of the general population in Hawaii has received at least one dose of the vaccine, while about 61% of those ages 75 and over have received one dose.

Of the administered vaccines, 314,776 were given to the general public and 22,125 were distributed through the federal pharmacy program, officials said.

Oahu moved into the less-restrictive Tier 3 of the city’s four-tier economic recovery plan Thursday after being in Tier 2 since Oct. 22. Tier 3 permits social and outdoor recreational gatherings of up to 10 people, and restaurants to seat 10 people at a table, up from five now. Tier 3 also allows funeral services with up to 25 attendees, and group fitness classes indoors with up to 10 participants. Gym capacity can increase to 50%. Restaurants and spiritual services can operate at full capacity as long as the establishments maintain 6 feet of distancing.

To gauge whether Honolulu will move to a different tier, the city takes a “weekly assessment” of two key COVID-19 numbers each Wednesday. To move from Tier 3 to the least-restrictive Tier 4, the 7-day average of new cases must be below 20 on two consecutive Wednesdays. Also, the 7-day average positivity rate must be below 1% on those two Wednesdays. The earliest that Oahu could move into Tier 1 would be late March since it needs to stay in each tier for at least four weeks.

Today’s seven-day average case count for Oahu is 24 and the seven-day average positivity rate is 1.0%, according to Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.

This breaking news story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had a higher total case count for Oahu.
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