On Monday, 16 new COVID-19 cases and the first coronavirus-related death on Maui were confirmed in Hawaii.

Compared to greater daily infection counts in recent days, a jump of 16 cases is a positive sign, said Lt. Gov. Josh Green at a press conference.

“It’s good news. It is promising. But it is by no means a reason to let our guard down,” said Green, who also serves as the state’s COVID-19 liaison for the medical community.

Honolulu County has documented 292 infections to date, up from 281 on Sunday. All other counties reported one new case since Sunday. Maui County has reported 44 total COVID-19 cases, Hawaii County reported 23, and Kauai County reported 17.

Waikiki Beach during 2020 Coronavirus COVID19.

Five people have died in Hawaii due to COVID-19 issues.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The latest case on Molokai is requiring “aggressive” contact tracing by the health department, DOH Director Bruce Anderson said Monday.

“In this case there were at least 100 contacts and it will take some time to reach everyone,” he said.

The fifth person to die due to coronavirus complications was a Maui resident.

Testing

As of Sunday, the state has conducted 14,079 COVID-19 tests. The health department has published new data showing the state’s testing results to date.

State officials say that collectively, laboratories can test as many as 1,500 people per day. But data show the state health department has received about 500 COVID-19 test results per day.

Department of Health

The state is due to receive about five new testing kits that allow for more rapid processing, Anderson announced Monday. The kits will have the capacity to test about 120 people over the next week.

But rapid testing may be reserved for certain patients, such as health care workers whose health would need to be verified before re-entering the field.

“There’s a huge backlog on the number of test kits available for this instrument,” Anderson said.  

Gov. David Ige said there is potential for more widespread testing, such as antibody testing that is currently underway in Italy, but those tests would need to be verified by the government for accuracy before the state adopts them.

The Hawaii National Guard began to conduct temperature checks at airports statewide on Monday.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Ige said the Hawaii National Guard will be at every airport in the state by the end of the week to conduct temperature checks for arriving air passengers.

Most Hospitalized Are Over 60

Currently, 26 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state. The number has fluctuated. On Sunday, there were 21.

To date, there have been 56 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, according to Lt. Gov. Josh Green. There could be more that have yet to be diagnosed and accounted for.

New data from the health department show that 15 people over the age of 60 are currently hospitalized for COVID-19. Another eight people between the ages of 40 and 59 are hospitalized.

The health department published age demographics of coronavirus patients for the first time.

Department of Health

Three people between 20 and 39 years old are currently hospitalized.

None of the 15 minors who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 are currently in the hospital, according to the new statistics.

At Monday’s press conference, Green said that nearly half of Hawaii’s hospital beds are in use, and about a third of intensive care unit beds are full.

The state has 535 ventilators, and 81 are currently in use. Only a “handful” of Hawaii COVID-19 patients have required a ventilator, Green said.

Release After Isolation

Most of Hawaii’s coronavirus patients have not needed hospitalization. Rather, they’ve been told to stay at home and recover in isolation. As of Monday, nearly 90 people have been determined well enough by DOH to be released from isolation.

According to the Hawaii COVID-19 Joint Information Center, Hawaii follows federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance when determining who has recovered enough to discontinue their isolation.

For people who had symptoms and were directed to self-isolate, they may be “released” if at least three days have passed since their fever disappeared and at least seven days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.

According to the CDC, using tests to verify that people are COVID-19 negative may not be an option anymore, as it is “contingent on the availability of ample testing supplies and laboratory capacity as well as convenient access to testing.”

COVID-19 related deaths are likely to continue through May, according to an analysis by the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The projection is based on a range of assumptions and fluctuates by the day.

This is an ongoing story. Check Civil Beat for updates.

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