LIHU‘E — Community transmission and cases of COVID-19 in children are on the rise on Kaua‘i.
Thursday, the state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office reported 13 new infections of COVID-19, 10 of which are considered community-acquired.
“We are observing unrelated, community-acquired infections islandwide,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said Thursday. “This indicates that, for the first time, we have extensive and sustained community transmission on our island.”
Thursday’s new cases were all in Kaua‘i residents, including five children and eight adults. Three of the cases were related to inter-island travel. With this, the county’s total active case count has risen to 43.
DOH Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said as of Wednesday night there were 47 active cases on the island, 45 of which were residents.
Of these cases, 32 were locally acquired and not related to travel.
“This tells us that the virus is now circulating widely in our community. This is the first time we’ve since this on Kaua‘i,” Berreman said. “Fifteen of the 47 cases had traveled off-island. Two-thirds of the travelers were infected while traveling inter-island. The other third was from mainland travel.”
Seventeen of the 47 were in cases of minors, Berreman reported.
“Some people may mistakenly believe that children can’t get the disease,” Berreman said. “Children can get and spread this disease, and are not eligible for vaccine. The best way to protect them is for everyone in their household 16 and over to get a vaccine.”
The county reported no transmission in school settings at this time. “So in-person learning remains a low risk,” Berreman said.
As for vaccination status, Berreman said that four of the 47 cases were fully vaccinated. Two of the four had no symptoms at all but tested positive, and two had mild symptoms.
“We know that the vaccine is not 100% effective in preventing disease, but it provides a very-high level of protection — and for those few who do become infected in spite of vaccine, they are unlikely to become seriously ill,” she said.
Earlier this month, the county reported the detection of two virus variants, B1429, known as the California Variant, and B117, known as the UK Variant. Berreman said that variant testing is ongoing in the current cases.
“Although we do not yet have results of variant testing, we expect our current cases will include these same variants,” Berreman said.
Wednesday, the DOH tested 362 people, which Kawakami said is well higher than the average, which results in catching more cases.
As of Thursday afternoon, the county remains on its least-restrictive Tier 4, which allows nearly all businesses, activities and gatherings to continue with minimal restrictions.
When the county hits more than two cases in a rolling seven-day average for total new cases or a test-positive rate above 1%, there will be a shift to Tier 3, which shuts down both outdoor and indoor organized team sports and puts increased limits on gatherings.
The island’s cumulative case total is 283 including 246 confirmed, two probable, and 35 tested off-island but reported after arrival.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.