Virus cases hit record high as Hawaii renews restrictions

HONOLULU — Hawaii health officials reported a record 231 new coronavirus cases on Saturday as state and municipal officials closed beaches and parks on Oahu and restricted other activities.

The statewide total of cases since the start of the pandemic in March has risen to 3,346 and newly confirmed infection cases surpassed 200 for two days in a row. Most of the cases have been in Honolulu and its suburbs.

The death Friday of an Oahu man who was older than 60 was the state’s 31st fatality linked to COVID-19, the state Department of Health said.

Hawaii Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson said officials expect the death toll to rise.

“Hospitals throughout Oahu are transferring patients and opening up new specialized COVID units to handle the surge in patients that is expected over the next couple of weeks,” Anderson said Saturday.

Closing Oahu’s beaches, parks and other high risk activities will help prevent the spread of the virus, but the measures are not enough and residents need to take responsibility in efforts to curb the virus, Anderson said.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, plans to reinstate a requirement that people traveling between the islands quarantine themselves for 14 days, starting on Tuesday.

Travelers arriving on Oahu from the state’s other islands will not need to quarantine, but people arriving in the other counties from different islands will.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he would close public parks, pools and campgrounds. State parks on Oahu will also close.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the number of cases should begin falling as closures and quarantine take effect.

“We’ll likely see cases in the triple digits for another week, then the numbers should begin to drop,” he said. “If we do very well socially distancing, the numbers on Oahu could be back to the 20-30 a day or better by 9/1.”

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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