The total number of COVID-19 cases in Hawaii rose from 26 to 37, one of which is a child, state health officials said Friday.

Two of the 11 cases confirmed by commercial laboratories are considered Hawaii’s first community transmitted cases, said Hawaii Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson.

The two people live on Oahu and are not related or associated with each other.

“It’s (community transmission) beginning and we need to maintain social distancing, make sure we follow the directions we’re providing, hand washing and avoiding large crowds, things that everyone should be doing,” he said. “It’s time to step up and take what we’re recommending seriously.”

Director of Health Bruce Anderson discusses 2-1-1 COVID 19 community surveillance program wih Governor Ige at the Dept of Health.
Department of Health director Bruce Anderson said it’s time for Hawaii residents to take social distancing as seriously as possible. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

The news of an infection in a child was the first time the department divulged the age-range of any of the current 37 cases to date.

“It’s a reminder that anyone can be infected,” Dr. Sarah Park, Hawaii’s state epidemiologist, said.

When asked about hospital executives reporting that they are running low on supplies such as personal protective equipment, both officials alluded to a national supply that Hawaii could tap if needed in the future.

“Our efforts are being focused on where we can get additional supplies to augment the resources we have available today,” Anderson said. “We’re doing everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our state.”

On Thursday, Lt. Gov. Josh Green and House Speaker Scott Saiki called for a mandatory two-week quarantine of all air passengers arriving in the state, except for essential health care workers. The health department is in discussion with the governor’s office about the possibility.

“We’re in the process of discussing with the governor about additional measures that can be taken,” Anderson said.

Update: State lawmakers representing districts on the Big Island called on Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim to order county residents to shelter in place for 15 days.

So far, Hawaii County is the only one to not take major steps to halt the spread of the virus.

The 11 legislators who wrote the letter also want Kim to restrict out-of-state travel, secure medical supplies, and close all public facilities as well as public and private schools.

“As Mayor, you are the only person who has the direct authority to institute these actions,” the letter reads.

Civil Beat reporter Blaze Lovell contributed to this report.

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