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Hawaii sees 2nd ‘breakthrough’ death of fully vaccinated resident and 243 new infections

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    Hawaii Department of Health officials urged unvaccinated residents, who make up about 40.5% of the state's population, to get their shots following a recent spike in coronavirus cases. State health officials on Thursday recorded the second "breakthrough" death of a fully vaccinated resident and 243 new infections statewide.

                                Beachgoers enjoy the outdoors in Waikiki.


    Beachgoers enjoy the outdoors in Waikiki.

Hawaii today recorded the second COVID-19 “breakthrough” death of an individual who was fully vaccinated, while also marking the eighth day in a row that new case counts have reached triple digits.

Hawaii Department of Health officials today reported three new coronavirus-related deaths and 243 new infections. The state’s totals since the start of the pandemic now sit at 527 fatalities and 39,892 cases.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he doesn’t want Oahu to revert back to the more restrictive Tier 4 reopening plan to curb the spread of the virus. Instead, he urged unvaccinated residents to get their shots to protect themselves against COVID-19.

State health officials said today the latest deaths were an Oahu man in his 50s, an Oahu woman in her 60s who was fully vaccinated and a Maui woman in her 60s. All three individuals had underlying health conditions when they were hospitalized with COVID-19, state health officials said.

>> RELATED: Rare ‘breakthrough’ COVID cases are causing alarm, confusion

Today’s total of 243 new cases is the highest tracked since January of this year. State health officials previously recorded 322 new cases on Jan. 7, 264 new cases the following day and 250 new cases on Jan. 9.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green attributed the majority of cases this month to community-related exposure.

“Approximately 78% of cases in July are from community spread, 20% from residents returning from travel and 2% from non-resident travel,” Green said in an Instagram. “Don’t wait — please encourage friends and family to get vaccinated.”

The record high since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was on Aug, 13, 2020, when the Hawaii Department of Health reported a single-day record of 355 new coronavirus cases.

The state’s official coronavirus-related death toll includes 408 fatalities on Oahu, 58 on Maui, 56 on Hawaii island, two on Kauai and three Hawaii residents who died outside the state.

The U.S. coronavirus-related death toll today is over 610,000 and the nationwide infection tally is more than 34.2 million.

Today’s new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 146 new cases on Oahu, 14 on Maui, 50 on Hawaii island, eight on Kauai and 25 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state.

State health officials have been including probable infections in its total case counts. Probable infections include people who never received a confirmatory test but are believed to have had the virus because of their known exposure and symptoms or because of a positive antigen test.

The total number of confirmed and probable coronavirus cases by island since the start of the outbreak are 29,182 on Oahu, 4,860 on Maui, 3,558 in Hawaii County, 488 on Kauai, 115 on Lanai and 81 on Molokai. There are also 1,608 Hawaii residents who were diagnosed outside of the state.

Today’s probable infections since the start of the pandemic added to the counts today include 852 on Maui, 844 on Oahu, 81 on Hawaii island, 24 on Molokai, three on Kauai, three on Lanai and 62 residents diagnosed outside the state.

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

Health officials counted 4,954 new COVID-19 test results in today’s tally, for a 4.9% statewide positivity rate.

Green told the Star-Advertiser that while the jump reflects a surge from Fourth of July gatherings among unvaccinated party-goers, the 7-day positivity rate today at 3.9%, is only slightly higher than 3.7% on Wednesday, translating to more test results coming in. The 7-day average of new cases increased to 135 today from 125 on Wednesday, according to the Hawaii COVID-19 Data dashboard.

Health officials also said today that, of the state’s total infection count, 1,483 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 state’s total number of active cases increased today by 161.

By island, Oahu has 1,018 active cases, the Big Island has 248, Maui has 128, Kauai has 88 and Molokai has one.

Health officials have warned that the highly transmissible delta variant, present in all four counties, would continue multiplying in ensuing weeks.

State health officials said in the latest report released on Wednesday, an additional 69 cases have been detected in samples, bringing the total to 126 statewide.

Delta is now the predominant strain in the state, making up 55% of the variants circulating in the state.

While it is highly likely that new daily cases will remain in the triple digits for some time due to community spread, the surge should come down a little bit if people are smart.

“I’d make two recommendations to everyone,” Green said. “Have a quiet two weeks. Don’t have significant gatherings, especially if you’re not vaccinated. Just keep it mellow for two weeks and definitely wear a mask if unvaccinated. And go get vaccinated. If you’re not vaccinated, don’t wait until fall, don’t wait until Christmas. The time to go is now because the delta is super contagious.”

>> RELATED: No ‘clear cut strategy’ to get more Oahu residents vaccinated, Honolulu Mayor Blangiardi says

The latest Hawaii COVID-19 vaccine summary says 1,736,117 vaccine doses have been administered through state and federal distribution programs as of Wednesday, up 3,028 from a day earlier. Health officials say that 59.5% of the state’s population is now fully vaccinated, and 66% have received at least one dose.

Of all the confirmed Hawaii infection cases, 2,598 have required hospitalizations, with nine new hospitalizations reported today.

Fourteen hospitalizations in the overall statewide count are Hawaii residents who were diagnosed and treated outside the state. Of the 2,584 hospitalizations within the state, 2,110 have been on Oahu, 303 on Maui, 151 on the Big Island, 14 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 73 patients with the virus were in Hawaii hospitals as of today, with 17 in intensive care units and 13 on ventilators.

The seven-day average case count for Oahu is 96 and the seven-day average positivity rate is 4.3%, state health officials said today.

Staff writer Nina Wu contributed to this story.

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