Hawaii continues to see double-digit spikes in cases amid growing concern about community spread

Hawaii continues to see double-digit spikes in cases amid growing concern about community spread
Hundreds of people turned out to a drive-thru test site Saturday in Waipio. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii saw another double-digit spike in new COVID-19 cases Sunday, with 25 new infections — all on Oahu. The cases put the statewide total at 1,023.

It’s the fourth straight day that Hawaii has seen 20 or more cases.

And it comes amid growing concern about widening community spread on Oahu.

Because one case was taken off the total, the new infections bring the total number of cases on Oahu so far to 744. There have been 128 infections in Maui County, 93 on the Big Island and 40 on Kauai.

In a news conference on Sunday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the community spread on Oahu was cause for concern — and he reiterated the importance of wearing a mask and staying at least 6 feet from others to slow the spread of the virus. He said many more days of double-digit cases could overwhelm contact tracers.

“We’ve got to be really, really careful,” he said. “And if we don’t manage it right, it could jeopardize the opening up to visitors Aug. 1. We’re seeing community spread. That means we’re giving it to each other.”

Starting next month, Hawaii plans to lift quarantine requirements for trans-Pacific travelers who present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before landing.

Details on how the testing would work, however, is still being hammered out.

In its latest update, the state said:

  • Some 777 people in Hawaii diagnosed with COVID-19 have been released from isolation. That means there are 246 active cases.
  • The number of people who have required hospitalization is 118, while the death toll stands at 19.
  • More than 100,000 people in the islands have been tested for COVID-19.

Following a spike in cases Friday, state Health Department Director Bruce Anderson said contact tracers — those tasked with notifying close contacts of cases that they may have been exposed — have found evidence of “disconcerting” community spread on Oahu.

He warned that more spikes could lead the state to close down some businesses again.

Hawaii reports 19th coronavirus death, biggest single-day surge in cases since early April

“There’s definitely more community spread happening now. People are letting down their guard,” he told Hawaii News Now. If cases continue to rise “we’re going to end up like other states and we’re going to have to start shutting down. The cases that are community-related are not imported cases.”

[Find continuing coverage of the pandemic in our special section: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC]

Hawaii public health officials have said some increase in infections is to be expected given that much of the kamaaina economy has reopened and activities that were banned are now allowed.

But they’ve also pleaded with residents to remain vigilant, wear a mask and maintain social distancing guidelines. And they’ve expressed concern about a surge in infections on the mainland, including in states — like California and Arizona — where Hawaii’s mainland visitors would originate.

Here’s the latest county-by-county breakdown of confirmed positives:

OAHU

  • Total cases: 744
  • Released from isolation: 544
  • Required hospitalization: 88
  • Deaths: 13

MAUI COUNTY

  • Total cases: 128 (includes 2 on Molokai)
  • Released from isolation: 115
  • Required hospitalization: 25
  • Deaths: 6

KAUAI

  • Total cases: 40
  • Released from isolation: 32
  • Required hospitalization: 1
  • Deaths: 0

BIG ISLAND

  • Total cases: 93
  • Released from isolation: 86
  • Required hospitalization: 3
  • Deaths: 0

UNASSIGNED

  • Hawaii residents diagnosed out-of-state: 18
  • Pending assignment to county: 0

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