State reports additional COVID-19 death, 231 new infections

5 p.m. update on the state's response to COVID-19

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Health Department reported another COVID-19 fatality on Saturday along with 231 new coronavirus infections — a new daily record.

The newly-reported death is of an Oahu man who was older than 60.

His death is being recorded as the 31st since the pandemic began. A previous fatality included in the death toll from the virus has been removed from the total following further investigation, officials said.

Meanwhile, authorities said 223 of the new infections reported Saturday are on Oahu. Five are on the Big Island and three are on Maui.

It’s the third consecutive day that Hawaii’s death toll from the virus has grown. On Friday, two new deaths were reported. And this week alone, there have been six COVID-19 fatalities.

It’s also the second day in a row that Oahu has seen 200 cases or more — and it comes on primary election day. While most voters cast their ballots by mail this year, some are still opting to vote in person.

The 231 cases are out of 2,698 tests conducted — a positivity rate of 8.5%.

They bring the total number of infections in Hawaii since the pandemic began to 3,346. Of those, 2,964 have been on Oahu.

The alarming figures come as state public health officials warn that the uncontrolled and rapid spread of coronavirus on Oahu could overwhelm the health system by month’s end and lead to more fatalities.

“Unfortunately, with the dramatic surge in cases, we can expect more deaths in the coming weeks,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson.

He urged people to stay at home this weekend and next.

CONTINUING COVERAGE:

Oahu has seen COVID-19 infections rising for weeks — amid growing frustration about the Ige administration’s response to the surge. Lawmakers have grown especially concerned about the Health Department’s inability to conduct thorough contact tracing, letting close contacts of those who have tested positive know they have been exposed. During an unannounced visit to the Health Department on Friday, lawmakers found investigators who were overworked and overwhelmed.

In recent days, a host of businesses and organizations have announced COVID-19 cases.

Several adult correctional officers have now tested positive for the virus, along with 10 employees who work at Honolulu Hale and its annex.

In the last two weeks alone, Hawaii has seen more than 1,600 new COVID-19 infections, the vast majority on Oahu. By comparison, over the course of the rest of the pandemic the state saw 1,504 cases combined.

In another staggering juxtaposition, the state saw 526 new cases from March 25 to April 30 ― during the original “stay-at-home” order. But just this week, there were more than 1,000 cases.

The two fatalities reported Friday were both men.

One was over 60 and had been hospitalized after being exposed to the virus by a household member.

The second man ― between the ages of 40 and 59 ― died Wednesday at home. His family said he experienced symptoms, but did not seek medical care.

The 231 new infections Saturday were announced two days after officials announced a dramatic rollback of COVID-19 restrictions, including the return of the inter-island quarantine and closures of beaches and parks.

Those closures took effect at midnight Friday, stopping people from gathering at parks this weekend. Bars on Oahu also remain closed along with bowling alleys.

This story will be updated.

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