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Hawaii News

Hawaii has nation’s lowest COVID-19 case rate, CDC data shows

Hawaii has the lowest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the nation, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state’s rate of new cases over the past seven days — 39.1 cases per 100,000 population — edged California’s at 40.4 and was far lower than the nationwide rate of 135.3. Michigan fared the worst at 483 cases per 100,000 residents, the CDC data showed.

Hawaii Department of Health officials on Wednesday reported 73 new coronavirus infections statewide, bringing the state’s total since the start of the pandemic to 31,561 cases. There were no new coronavirus- related deaths, keeping the death toll at 474.

The new cases include 45 on Oahu, 15 on Maui, six on Hawaii island, three on Kauai, one on Molokai and three Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. The statistics released Wednesday reflect the new cases reported to the department Monday.

Hawaii also is doing well in terms of vaccination rates, ranking seventh nationally at 76,924 doses per 100,000 population, according to CDC data. New Hampshire led the way at 81,928 per 100,000, and Alabama finished at the bottom with 48,143 per 100,000.

Starting this week, vaccination eligibility was expanded nationwide to all residents age 16 and older.

All told, 1,089,152 vaccine doses had been administered in Hawaii as of Wednesday, according to CDC’s COVID Data Tracker. (The number differs slightly from the state’s estimate of 1,087,674 doses.)

Vaccination data from the DOH shows roughly half the adult population of the state’s four major counties have received at least one dose. Kauai is tops at 56%, followed by Maui (48%), Hawaii island (47%) and Oahu (43%).

When considering the total population, 35% of Hawaii’s population have received at least one dose through the state vaccine system, but that figure does not include those vaccinated through the federal programs.

Appearing via Zoom at Maui Mayor Michael Victorino’s daily briefing Wednesday, state Epidemiologist Sarah Kemble said the vaccines appear to be effective against the COVID- 19 variants that have reached Hawaii’s shores, even the predominant B.1.429 variant first detected in California.

Two variants already circulating in the islands, the California variant and the B.1.1.7 strain first detected in the United Kingdom, now account for 85% of COVID-19 test specimens from Maui that have undergone genomic sequencing at the DOH’s state Laboratories Division, Kemble said, with the California variant detected in 82% of Maui samples.

“That’s the strain that we’ve been talking about, that we’ve been seeing in many of the clusters that we’re investigating in the community on Maui, so we know that this strain really has taken over in Maui,” she said.

“Now the flip side of that is to talk about vaccine progress. As of today on Maui, we are nearing 50% of the population of Maui having initiated at least one dose of vaccine. … So there’s a balance there. We are seeing that those variants that are circulating now are newer ones, but we’re also seeing that vaccine is getting out there.”

Even with the widespread presence of variants, Kemble said vaccinations are limiting transmission, especially in nursing homes and similar settings where there previously have been large clusters.

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