In the largest increase of cases in a single day, Hawaii health officials reported Saturday 29 new cases of the coronavirus in Hawaii.

That brings the state’s total number of cases to 151, according to the state Department of Health.

There were 19 new cases on Oahu, six on Kauai and three on the Big Island. No new cases were reported on Maui. There are also no confirmed cases on Molokai or Lanai.

The state first started reporting COVID-19 positive cases on March 6, and the number reported Saturday is the most in a single day. Health officials told a legislative committee on Friday that there has been little evidence of community spread and that most cases have been travel related. 

The state Department of Health reported 29 new cases of the coronavirus in Hawaii Saturday. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

Three of the new cases reported Saturday were related to travel while the other 26 are still under investigation, according to DOH Director Bruce Anderson. Anderson said the jump in cases could be due to increased testing or possibly localized spread of the virus, which the department has seen evidence of on Oahu, Maui County and the Big Island.

Anderson says health officials aren’t seeing clusters of cases appearing in the state yet.

“We’re mapping the cases out now,” Anderson said. “But we have so few cases it’s hard to know if there’s clustering of cases in any one area.”

Although the department has home addresses and some information about work history for each case, it’s still hard to know where exactly someone could have been exposed, Anderson said.

Hawaii State Epidemiologist Sarah Park said folks should not focus too much on daily counts, as they may fluctuate as travel related cases drop.

That’s expected with a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals into the state.

“What’s important to note is that with the severe reduction in travel to the state and with only limited localized community spread at this time, we have a real chance to stamp out COVID-19 here,” Park said in a written statement.

State officials and Gov. David Ige are considering a restriction on interisland travel by implementing a mandatory 14-day quarantine for those who travel between islands.

There could be exemptions for those who travel between islands for work.

The new restriction would mirror a similar measure that went into effect Thursday that requires returning residents to quarantine at home and visitors to quarantine in their hotel rooms.

Air travel is down 95% from this time last year. On Friday, just over 1,200 people flew to the islands, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The majority of those passengers were either flight crews or residents.

However, HTA reported 180 visitors also landed. Hotel occupancy statewide is about 42%, according to HTA. 

A drive-thru testing site was up and running at the Waipio Soccer Complex Saturday. There was also a testing clinic at the Old Kona Airport Park on the Big Island. A site is scheduled to be operating at Kakaako Waterfront Park on Sunday.

Labs and clinics in the state have the capacity to conduct about 1,000 tests a day, according to DOH. The wait for tests can range from two days if done locally to 10 days if the test is sent to the mainland.

Health officials in the state have been reluctant to expand testing to those showing no symptoms over concerns that more testing could eat into the state’s supply of protective gear for health workers.

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. topped about 116,000 Saturday. Over 1,600 people in the country have died from the virus.

Support Civil Beat during the season of giving.

As a small nonprofit newsroom, our mission is powered by readers like you. But did you know that less than 1% of readers donate to Civil Beat?

Give today and support local journalism that helps to inform, empower and connect.

About the Author