HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state reported a jaw-dropping 355 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a new record high that underscores just how quickly COVID-19 is spreading on Oahu.
Meanwhile, the state’s death toll rose by two ― to 40.
It’s the fourth consecutive day that Hawaii has reported two or more new COVID-19 fatalities. In August alone, Hawaii has lost 14 people to the virus.
The state Health Department said the latest fatalities were both Oahu men older than 60, but did not release any additional details. Officials also offered little information on emerging clusters.
The new cases Thursday shatter the previous one-day record for cases ― 231 set on Aug. 8.
The 355 positives were out of 3,394 tests, which translates to a positivity rate of 10.5%.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green called the surge in cases “exponential growth” and said it is “disconcerting” that the islands now have more than 2,500 active cases. “We can’t accept (daily) numbers in the 200 to 300 range. That’s not sustainable,” Green said. “We won’t be able to keep up with the need.”
State Health Department officials also reported that:
- Of the 355 new cases, 343 are on Oahu. There were also seven reported on Maui, four on the Big Island and one on Kauai.
- Some 86 of the new confirmed cases are part of an alarming cluster at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.
- There is also a growing cluster at a homeless shelter in Iwilei, with 20 cases under investigation.
- Statewide, there are currently 146 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those 29 people are in the ICU and 22 people are on ventilators.
So far in August, Hawaii has reported 2,206 new coronavirus cases.
The new infections push the COVID-19 case total on Oahu since the pandemic began to 3,900. Statewide, there have been 4,312 confirmed cases.
State Health Director Bruce Anderson said Thursday’s daily increase shows that COVID-19 is “actively being spread throughout the community on Oahu.”
He said settings like prisons, homeless shelters and other “congregate settings” need to prepare.
Meanwhile, the state Health Department announced that the IHS men’s shelter on Sumner Street ― where the positive cases have been reported ― will be turned into a quarantine and isolation facility.
It was not immediately clear where homeless clients who do not have COVID-19 will be moved.
COVID-19 cases have continued to soar for weeks, prompting government to close Oahu bars, parks and beaches. The state has also reinstated an inter-island quarantine for most travelers.
But some have called on the state to go further, bringing back more stringent restrictions to dramatically knock down the spread of the virus.
One of the biggest concerns: That the state’s hospitals will get overwhelmed.
Officials say hospitals on Oahu still have capacity, but they’re filling quickly. Green said Oahu hospitals are “under duress” and — and that hundreds more are expected to need significant care.
“The danger is the way things are quickly rising,” added Daniel Ross, president of the Hawaii Nurses Association, in an interview with HNN on Sunrise.
“Unfortunately, it looks like we’re headed for the direction of places like New York. We still have a chance to avoid that happening, and I just pray that people pay more attention.”
This story will be updated.