Spike in Big Island cases described as an ‘islandwide problem’

Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 5:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The spread of COVID-19 on Hawaii Island is no longer limited to one cluster or one part of the county, and it’s mostly blamed on social or family gatherings.

That’s according to Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, who described the problem as an island-wide one.

“Right now there are clusters within specific areas: Kona side, Hilo side, Puna side," he said.

Here’s a look at the county’s day-by-day increases in new cases this week:

  • Monday: 7
  • Tuesday: 24
  • Wednesday: 9
  • Thursday: 29
  • Friday: 34

There have been a total of 1,154 cases on the Big Island since the pandemic began.

Currently, 300 of those are active while 826 people have recovered.

The height of the Big Island outbreak came over the summer, when more than two dozen people died as the virus ravaged through the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home.

At the Life Care Center in Hilo, eight residents have now died.

While those clusters spread fast, they were mostly contained to the facilities.

Now, the increase in cases are widespread.

Hilo Medical Center does have capacity should more people require hospitalization. Currently, they have three patients in their COVID-19 unit. At the peak of the summer outbreak it was 20, according to Hilo Medical Center public relations specialist Elena Cabatu.

“Those who are getting infected on our island are 40 (years) and younger so that’s also another reason why maybe we’re not seeing the hospitalizations yet,” she said.

"Or maybe it won’t materialize into hospitalizations because it’s a younger sector of the population.”

Kim said he knows people are tired of hearing about masks and social distancing and that the population has grown weary of the isolation but he said it is important to get the numbers down.

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