LIHU‘E — “We have some very bad news to report today,” Gov. David Ige said at the start of his Thursday news conference.
The state announced Thursday a record 355 new cases of COVID-19 across the islands, following several days of other triple-digit reports.
The state also reported two additional deaths in a 24-hour period, bringing the statewide death toll to 40. Both of the fatalities were O‘ahu men over the age of 60.
Ige warned that if this spike in cases does not stop, the implementation of previously-lifted restrictions, like stay-at-home orders, may be on the horizon.
“It has been a week since we’ve reinstated some of the restrictions and a couple of days since we restarted the interisland, 14-day, mandatory travel quarantine,” Ige said. “We hope that these measures will help control the virus. If things do not get better, we will have no choice but to look at more restrictions.”
Ige also acknowledged that the anticipated trans-Pacific travel opening date of Sept. 1 with a pre-travel negative test is out of the picture.
“I know that going backward will cause further harm to our economy, but we have always said that the health and safety of our community will be the highest priority,” Ige said. “As we have seen, this rapid increase has put significant stress on our hospital and health-care system.”
As of Thursday, about 40% of those diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered, per Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green. About 146 are currently hospitalized, with about 56% of available ICU (intensive-care unit) beds occupied across the state.
“We are headed in the wrong direction,” Ige said. “We are seeing numerous clusters and high spread.”
Ige said seemingly-innocent interactions as small as chatting at a water station at work or eating lunch together “must stop.”
“We must take actions and take personal responsibility to stop these interactions to bring the disease back under control,” Ige said.
Part of the count included 70 additional inmates at O‘ahu Community Correctional Center and seven corrections officers, as reported by state’s Department of Public Safety.
The state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office reported two new positive cases of COVID-19 on Kaua‘i, bringing the island’s total number of active cases to six, and the cumulative total of cases to date to 53.
One new case is a minor resident who is a household contact of another currently-active case.
The second new case is a visiting adult who recently traveled to Kaua‘i from out of state and has been quarantined since arrival.
All six active cases are in isolation. The DOH contact-tracing investigation is ongoing. All identified close contacts are being directed to quarantine and offered tests.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the county had 39 contacts under quarantine, per the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency.
None of the cases have required hospitalization.
All incoming arrivals to Kaua‘i are subject to the state’s 14-day mandatory traveler quarantine, which kicked back up earlier this week.
There are very-limited situations in which modified quarantine permissions are allowed, including people who must travel interisland for critical infrastructure jobs, or those who must travel for medical reasons.
“Our recent cases show that the mandatory traveler quarantine is an important tool in protecting our island from spreading disease here,” stated Mayor Derek Kawakami.
“I can only hope that the 355 new cases reported across the state today serves as a wake-up call for both our visitors and residents that now is simply not the time for leisurely travel.”
Interisland travelers who believe they qualify for modified quarantine should visit kauai.gov/COVID-19 and click on the “Modified Quarantine Request” button at the top of the page.
Requests should be submitted at least two days prior to the date of travel.
One of Thursday’s new cases was reflected on the state’s COVID-19 website at hawaiicovid19.com. The second case is expected to be part of today’s statewide count.