Ige speaks with mayors after Hawaii sees alarming spike in new COVID-19 cases

Ige says spike in new COVID-19 infections is manageable, but warns that could change

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige is speaking with county mayors on Wednesday about reopening tourism a day after Hawaii saw its highest daily total of new COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

There were 41 new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday. The previous one-day high of 34 was seen on April 1 and April 3.

The new cases bring the statewide total to 1,071, nearly 75% of whom have recovered.

The governor sought to reassure residents that the alarming spike in new COVID-19 infections is “manageable right now,” but warned that could change quickly.

Ige acknowledged the surge has triggered discussions about whether some high-risk businesses should be closed again or planned modifications to the trans-Pacific quarantine set to take effect Aug. 1 be delayed.

The plan to reopen tourism ― with a visitor pre-testing program ― also comes as the mainland sees a surge in new COVID-19 cases, including record high daily case counts in Florida, Texas and California.

“We are monitoring the conditions we see across the country,” Ige said.

He said it’s vital that people wear a mask and socially distance to slow the spread of the virus.

“We are not in a situation where the number of cases that we’ve seen today or in the recent past threatens the health care system in any way,” Gov. David Ige said, at a news conference. “What I would want to remind everyone is that we all need to take personal responsibility to maintain that going forward.”

He continued, “We are safe as we speak but we need to continue to maintain and take the personal responsibility of making these choices and reduce the risk that we are all exposed to.”

Governor Ige says the state did not open early

He added the Hawaii hospitals are not reporting any capacity issues and people who need a test can get one. The state continues to enjoy the nation’s lowest COVID-19 infection and mortality rates.

Health Director Bruce Anderson called the surge in new cases Tuesday a “wake-up call” and said there’s growing evidence of widespread transmission of the virus in the community.

“These high numbers are a concern for the department,” he said. “The trends are very disturbing. The clear message is to wear a mask and stay away from others.”

Of the 41 new cases Tuesday, 38 are on Oahu.

CONTINUING COVERAGE:

The Big Island saw one new case and Kauai reported two, Hawaii News Now was told. Two of the new cases are non-residents from Washington and California.

And several are associated with growing clusters.

Fifteen positive cases are now linked to a Hawaiian Airlines training and nine are associated with a gym.

“It’s very disconcerting. This is a surge,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green told HNN. “I have obvious concerns. You can be sure we’re going to revisit the reopening plan because we’re very nervous. I’m worried.”

Green said the spike is a “reflection of people being out and about without a mask too often.”

“We’re seeing cases pop up all over the state. Some are from travelers, but many, many more are from community spread,” he said. “Almost all of this spread is our own selves.”

Meanwhile, the state Health Department also reported:

  • Some 797 people in Hawaii diagnosed with COVID-19 have been released from isolation.
  • The number of people who have required hospitalization is 119, while the death toll stands at 19.
  • More than 102,000 people in the islands have been tested for COVID-19.

The city, meanwhile, reported that one of the new cases is a Department of Environmental Services worker. He notified his supervisor Sunday night that he tested positive, and said he is part of a family cluster.

The city said members of the worker’s crew are self-quarantining.

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.

Green said now more than ever it’s vital that people:

  • Wear a face covering when outside the home;
  • Stay at least 6 feet from others to prevent the spread of the virus;
  • Limit gatherings to “ohana bubbles” or no more than 10 people.

Green said most of the spread on Oahu is being seen in “little clusters.” So far, he added, the surge hasn’t resulted in an uptick in hospital admissions, but he said that could change in the next two to three weeks.

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

OAHU

  • Total cases: 788
  • Released from isolation: 559
  • Required hospitalization: 89
  • Deaths: 13

MAUI COUNTY

  • Total cases: 128 (includes 2 on Molokai)
  • Released from isolation: 116
  • Required hospitalization: 25
  • Deaths: 6

KAUAI

  • Total cases: 42
  • Released from isolation: 35
  • Required hospitalization: 1
  • Deaths: 0

BIG ISLAND

  • Total cases: 95
  • Released from isolation: 87
  • Required hospitalization: 3
  • Deaths: 0

UNASSIGNED

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

This story will be updated.

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