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University of Hawaii extends online learning by a week amid COVID-19 surge

In response to the state’s recent record-high counts in new COVID-19 cases, spurred by the highly contagious omicron variant, the University of Hawaii’s 10 campuses are extending online learning by a week.

State Department of Health officials reported 6,252 new confirmed and probable coronavirus infections Tuesday, marking a new single-day record for the state by surpassing the previous record of 5,977 infections Saturday.

In a letter issued to students, faculty and staff Tuesday, UH President David Lassner said, “While we are cautiously optimistic that COVID-19 hospitalizations in Hawaii are starting to plateau, we experienced the highest case count of the pandemic today, and believe that it is prudent to allow the online shift to continue for one extra week.”

Spring 2022 courses that were shifted online for the first two weeks of the semester will remain online for one more week and are slated to return to their originally scheduled course delivery mode (in person or hybrid) on Jan. 31. Lassner said all classes currently meeting in person should continue to do so.

Essential programs and services will continue to be accessible in person as well as online. Faculty who are teaching classes online now that are scheduled to meet in person can opt to begin in-person instruction Monday, with no formal approval required, Lassner said.

According to the Hawaii COVID-19 Data dashboard, 365 patients with the virus were in Hawaii hospitals as of Tuesday, with 41 in intensive care units and 22 on ventilators. On Friday, when the state last reported the hospitalization data, there were 346 patients with the virus in Hawaii hospitals, with 41 in ICUs and 19 on ventilators.

With no new virus-related fatalities reported, the statewide COVID-19 death toll remains 1,126. Since the pandemic surfaced, the state has reported 180,838 cases of infection.

Health officials also said Tuesday that of the state’s total infection count, 55,651 cases are considered active. Officials said they consider infections reported in the past 14 days to be a “proxy number for active cases.”

About 75.3% of the state’s population is now fully vaccinated, according to state data.

Also, in response to omicron-fueled demand, the City and County of Honolulu is expanding its hours for COVID-19 testing at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

Starting today, the airport testing site at the Diamond Head Tour Group Area will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The site will continue normal hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. all other days.

“With the omicron variant regularly creating record numbers of infections on Oahu, we are very pleased to provide more opportunities for the public to get tested,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi in a news release.

Testing at the Honolulu airport is funded by the city and operated by the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii. Free antigen testing is being offered to all Oahu residents, Honolulu County employees and first responders.

To register for a test, visit oahucitypass.lumisight.com. For more information, call 808-501-1909 or email support@preventcovidhi.com.

Information about additional Oahu testing sites is available at oneoahu.org/covid19-testing.

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