Hawaii’s total cases of COVID-19 climbs to 56, health officials say

Published: Mar. 22, 2020 at 12:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Department of Health announced eight new cases Sunday, bringing the total number in the state to 56.

According to the state, the breakdown of cases is as follows:

  • Total: 56 (8 new)
  • Oahu: 41 (6 new)
  • Maui: 9 (2 new)
  • Kauai: 3
  • Big Island: 3

Of the cases reported so far, three people required hospitalization. No one has died, according to health officials.

On Sunday, a Hawaii-based Marine was confirmed to have the virus. The Marine went for treatment at the Tripler Army Medical Center.

Just a day prior, the Army announced a soldier with the 25th Infantry Battalion based in Hawaii tested positive for coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. The Army said the soldier is in isolation at their off-base home.

Officials said the soldier traveled to Las Vegas on March 13 and returned to Oahu on March 15. The soldier was ordered to self-quarantine and became symptomatic on March 18.

A test was conducted Thursday and confirmed to be positive a day later.

Also confirmed Saturday was the case of a Hawaiian Airlines employee. According to an internal company document, the employee worked as a flight attendant.

Health officials say community spread is limited, but happening nonetheless.

“We have been talking about community spread for a long time. It’s beginning. It’s starting,” said state Health Department Director Bruce Anderson, in a conference call with reporters.

“It’s not just that it might happen. It is happening now.”

Previous cases announced Friday include a minor.

School officials from Hawaii Baptist Academy confirmed positive cases were found in their school community.

“We recently received word that one of our families who traveled to the continental U.S. tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return to Oahu on March 15. This family includes one student," school President Ron Shiira said.

He added the family is in isolation.

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Even before community transmission of the virus was announced, the governor was getting mounting pressure to institute stricter measures statewide, including with a 15-day lockdown and mandatory visitor quarantine.

The Honolulu City Council on Friday joined House Speaker Scott Saiki and Lt. Gov. Josh Green in calling on the governor to put in place emergency measures to stop visitors from coming to Hawaii.

He has since announced his quarantine order at a press conference Saturday. Click here to read more.

The widening spread of the virus has alarmed public health officials who say hospitals in the islands are already beginning to feel the effects and protective gear is in short supply.

Related coverage:

City announces one-day drive-thru testing site planned for Kakaako

Mayor Caldwell, city leaders echo calls for Ige to stop nonessential travel to Hawaii

Illinois joins N.Y., Calif. in locking down against coronavirus

Earlier this week, instead of a statewide directive, Ige asked visitors to stay away for 30 days ― a request that appears to have had limited effect. On Friday, visitors still filled beaches.

The counties have also taken their own steps to contain the virus.

On Oahu, restaurants have been ordered to end all dine-in service, all city parks are closed and emergency and essential services have taken steps to protect employees.

Meanwhile on Kauai, a nighttime curfew kicks in Friday night. There are exceptions to the rule, but Kauai’s mayor said it’s meant to encourage people to stay in their homes.

Hawaii public schools, meanwhile, are closed through at least April 6, and universities and private schools are on break or having students work remotely.

This story will be updated.

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