For the first time since the middle of March, Hawaii health authorities had no new COVID-19 infections to report.

The number of new infections has been declining in recent weeks, prompting more discussion about how to reopen the economy yet prepare for a possible comeback of the virus.

But state officials caution that the lack of new cases Friday is likely a lull.

“As businesses reopen, as people become more active and travel more freely, we will inevitably see an increase in cases,” said Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidemiologist. 

The number of new COVID-19 cases daily is dwindling, but health officials believe that is temporary. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

The cumulative case count on Hawaii island stands at 74, Oahu’s at 408, Kauai’s at 21, and Maui’s at 116. Ten other residents have been diagnosed outside of Hawaii.

Peak infection rates were documented in late March and early April, and the last time DOH had no new cases to report was March 13.

However, state-verified cases come at a lag, since the virus has an incubation period that can last as many as 14 days, and officials begin case investigations once a test confirms diagnosis.

The number of cases statewide remains at 629.

The Department of Health also updated some of its data reporting this week.

In March, a spokesperson with the Hawaii COVID-19 Joint Information Center told Civil Beat the category of “released from isolation” was an indication of recovery. But on Thursday, the center indicated in a footnote that the number also included the 17 people who have died due to coronavirus related issues.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate themselves.

To date, 566 people have been released from isolation according to DOH. One more person was added to that category on Friday, presumed to be another person in recovery because the death toll was unchanged.

As of Friday, to be released from isolation, a patient needs to be free of fever for three days or at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first occurred, whichever is longer. That period was recently extended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from seven to 10 days after symptom onset.

The department also purged 1,010 duplicate tests in its testing count on Thursday.


“There appears to have been a glitch in the ELR reporting, in that the system was over counting some tests over the past week. Staff have fixed the issue and adjusted the data,” a press release stated.

Approximately 34,206 people have been tested for the COVID-19 disease as of Thursday.

The Harvard Global Health Institute has calculated the minimum number of tests that should be conducted in each state. Hawaii is among nine states that have exceeded those testing minimum estimates.

Some retailers on the Big Island and Kauai reopened Thursday. Maui has scheduled a partial reopening of businesses on Monday, and Oahu’s next phase of reopening is slated for May 15.

Restaurant operations continue to be limited to take-out and the tourism industry has tumbled.

Since the pandemic hit its shores, Hawaii’s unemployment rate rose from 3% to 35%, making it the highest rate in the country.

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