The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hawaii reached 258 on Wednesday.

Thirty-four new cases — the largest 24-hour increase reported to date — were announced by the Department of Health. Twenty-five new cases were identified on Oahu, three on the Big Island, one on Maui and five others are still under investigation by the health department.

Two more people required hospitalization, bring the total hospitalized in Hawaii to 15.

Staff assist in Coronavirus screening and testing at Kakaako Waterfront Park.
Staff assist in coronavirus screening and testing at Kakaako Waterfront Park on Sunday. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

The total number of people tested across all islands reached 10,462.  The majority of those tests — 10,206 — had negative results.

Among the latest confirmed infections are a Queen’s Health Systems employee and a U.S. Postal Service worker, which were reported Tuesday.

Nearly a dozen more people were reported as recovered on Wednesday afternoon. About 70 people have been released from isolation after recovery, according to the health department.

One death in Hawaii has been attributed to the virus. The elderly Oahu man had other medical issues, but his death was most likely caused by the coronavirus, DOH Director Bruce Anderson said Wednesday at a press conference.

“The person had recently traveled to Las Vegas where we know the virus is widespread,” Anderson said.

The White House task force on COVID-19 and the nation’s top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci predict as many as 240,000 people could die from COVID-19 complications in the U.S., even with mitigation efforts.

Hawaii could avoid deaths if social distancing and limits on travel continue, Anderson said.

“We have a much smaller population than most other states,” he said. “There is no reason to think our fatality rate will be higher than other places.”

President Trump issued a Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaii on Wednesday, which will release federal funds to people and cover emergency repairs of facilities.

Small business owners may also apply for loans covered by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act.

Wednesday also marked the first day of the state quarantine mandate for all interisland travelers. Anyone traveling to Hawaii from the mainland or abroad by plane is already also subject to a two-week quarantine, whether they are residents or visitors. Those who do not comply face a $5,000 fine or a year in jail.

“The arrival numbers overall are down by 98.5% compared to this time last March, and it’s anticipated to drop even more as interisland passengers aren’t going to be flying as well,” Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara said at a press conference on Wednesday. 

“The fact we have as many residents we do and so few visitors reflects the effectiveness of the mandatory quarantine program for visitors and including residents coming back home,” Anderson added.

Gov. David Ige said Wednesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is still assessing several buildings — including hotels and the Hawaii Convention Center — that could be retrofitted into “alternate care facilities” should hospitals run out of room.

“They go and identify what specific work would be required in order to convert it into an alternative care site, and give an estimate of what the cost might be,” Ige said, without providing a timeline or details.

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