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Probable cases will raise Hawaii’s COVID case count by 1,600

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                A couple wore masks to varying degrees Tuesday while walking near Ala Moana Regional Park.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A couple wore masks to varying degrees Tuesday while walking near Ala Moana Regional Park.

Hawaii will see a one-time jump in its total count of coronavirus cases today after the state Department of Health adds in about 1,600 probable cases that it’s kept track of since the start of the pandemic.

State health officials also will record probable cases in their future daily case counts, which in the near term could add an extra 10 to 20 cases a week.

The probable cases include people who never received a confirmatory test but are believed to have had the virus because of their known exposure and symptoms.

The change will provide health officials with a more complete picture of COVID infections within the state, particularly since antigen testing, which is not confirmatory, is expected to increase.

“People who test positive with an antigen test, but do not confirm infection by taking a PCR test, are counted as probable cases,” said acting state Epidemiologist Sarah Kemble in a news release. “Testing technology is evolving and we anticipate using more rapid antigen testing more often as time goes on.”

Kemble said she didn’t expect the addition of probable cases to have a significant effect on Hawaii’s tier systems, which determine restrictions on activities and businesses based on weekly average case counts.

Health Department officials Tuesday reported 56 new coronavirus infections statewide, bringing the state’s total since the start of the pandemic to 33,889 cases.

No new coronavirus- related fatalities were reported Tuesday, so the statewide death toll remained at 492.

The state’s official coronavirus-related death toll includes 380 fatalities on Oahu, 54 on Maui, 53 on Hawaii island, two on Kauai and three Hawaii residents who died outside the state.

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