In plea for residents to stay at home, health officials say ‘worst is yet to come’

'Not out of the woods’: Officials urge residents to stay at home as COVID-19 cases near 400

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor and state health officials on Monday said a slight decline in the daily number of reported COVID-19 cases is reason to be optimistic ― but not to stop following stay-at-home orders aimed at preventing the further spread of the disease.

Gov. David Ige also said that stricter measures could be taken if residents don’t follow the rules.

“We need to stop the spread. We need to stop it now,” Ige said, in a news conference.

Added Lt. Gov. Josh Green: “We are not out of the woods yet. Every time a party occurs, please know that is a selfish thing to do. That is how the virus can continue to spread.”

The comments — apparently in reference to a small but stubborn contingent that continues to flout stay-at-home mandates — came on the same day that Hawaii reported its fifth COVID-19 death.

Meanwhile, there were 17 new cases of the virus reported in the islands, bringing the statewide total to 388.

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That daily count is down a bit from the numbers Hawaii had been seeing in recent days ― in the 20s and 30s. But officials stressed the decline might simply be due to a lag in testing.

“On Saturday, we had 34 cases. On Sunday, we had 20. Today, we have 16 reported. This is not to be assumed that we are on a downward trend," said state Health Director Bruce Anderson.

He added, “I think the worst is yet to come.”

A new projection from the University of Washington says Hawaii will peak at 17 deaths a day in six days — with an estimated total of 155 deaths by the summer.

The fatality reported Monday was the first on Maui. Authorities said the patient was an older man with underlying health conditions. All four previous deaths were on Oahu.

In announcing the death, Maui Mayor Mike Victorino urged Hawaii residents to continue following the state’s stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of the disease.

Here's a look at where clusters of cases are located, according to the state Health Department.
Here's a look at where clusters of cases are located, according to the state Health Department. (Source: Hawaii DOH/Graphic by Ryan Ozawa)

“Everyone must stay home and only go out in public for essential purposes,” Victorino said.

“Now is not the time for parties and gatherings. If you do have to leave home, make sure you wear a mask and practice social distancing."

CONTINUING COVERAGE:

Here’s a look at the county-by-county breakdown of reported cases:

  • Oahu: 292
  • Maui County: 44 (2 on Molokai)
  • Big Island: 23
  • Kauai: 18
  • Pending: 9
  • Diagnosed out of state: 2

More than 13,500 people have been tested for coronavirus in Hawaii.

Of those who tested positive, at least 56 people so far have required hospitalization. The Health Department said 26 people remain hospitalized.

Meanwhile, 89 people total have been “released from isolation.” That means it’s been three days since they’ve exhibited symptoms or seven since they first got sick, whichever is longest.

Green also said Monday that Hawaii still has a good supply of ventilators available for those who might get gravely ill from the disease. Just 15% of those available in the state are being used.

“The average amount of time a person is on a ventilator has been quite substantial, a couple weeks,” Green said. “Still, our ventilator (use) has dropped and very few people have had to be on ventilators overall.”

This story will be updated.

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