State reports 2 new COVID-19 fatalities, bringing Hawaii’s death toll to 12

Tuesday's 5 p.m. Newscast

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is reporting two more COVID-19 fatalities in Hawaii, in a grim reminder that while the daily case count from the disease is on the decline many remain very ill.

Meanwhile, Hawaii saw just two new coronavirus cases overnight.

The two new cases — both on Maui — bring the statewide total to 586. It’s the second straight day that Oahu, the state’s population center, has seen no new cases.

The two additional fatalities bring the state’s death toll from the virus to 12.

In a statement Tuesday morning, Gov. David Ige offered his condolences to the families.

“This is a serious disease especially for those with pre-existing health conditions and older adults," Ige said. "It is critical that we all comply with the stay at home order, practice social distancing, and continue to wear a mask whenever we go out to protect others.”

The DOH said the deaths occurred on Oahu and Maui and both were men, ages 65 years or older.

The man on Oahu had underlying health conditions and had been hospitalized in late March. He was discharged after his condition improved, but died at his home on Monday.

The man who died on Maui also had underlying health conditions. He was hospitalized at the Maui Memorial Medical Center since late last year, and authorities said his case is linked to a large cluster at the hospital.

As of Monday, at least 36 Maui Memorial staff and 20 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 are believed connected to the cluster, an embarrassing black eye for Maui’s largest hospital.

The two new deaths came on the heels of encouraging news Monday, when authorities reported just four new COVID-19 cases. The governor celebrated the low number, but said Hawaii isn’t yet in the clear.

He urged residents to stay the course — at least for now.

“We will have to live with COVID-19 in our community for a long time,” he said. “We want to — when the conditions are right — restore to some normalcy activities in our community.”

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“I assure you we will be thoughtful in how we phase in a return to normal,” he added.

The governor has indicated he’s going to extend the stay-at-home order beyond April 30, while easing some restrictions and potentially deeming more businesses “essential,” allowing them to reopen.

The mayor did exactly that on Tuesday, pushing the order through May 31 while reopening parks.

State public health officials have also said Hawaii isn’t prepared to lift strict stay-at-home mandates, which have closed everything from hair salons and restaurants to beaches and hiking trails.

“We need to make sure that’s (the decline in cases) sustained over time,” said Bruce Anderson, said state Health Department director. “We need to make sure we have this situation under control before we start relaxing controls.”

While government officials have praised stay-at-home restrictions in dramatically decreasing the number of new cases daily, they’ve also cautioned that lifting them too quickly could be disastrous.

CONTINUING COVERAGE:

Instead of doing away with stay-at-home orders altogether, officials are looking to “phase in” a reopening of the economy. They’ve also stressed that residents should expect social distancing rules to remain in place for months or even years to come.

This story will be updated.

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