State officials voiced concern on Tuesday after Hawaii saw its highest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases, but did not announce any new directives or changes to current health guidelines in the state.
At a press conference Tuesday, Gov. David Ige and state health officials reiterated their message from earlier in the week — that Hawaii is prepared to handle future cases, which they expect will continue to rise.
“We knew as we reopened the economy, we would get a number of new cases,” Ige said. “We’ll be data-driven and listen to the recommendations of health experts.”
Ige said he plans to meet with mayors on Wednesday to reassess whether or not they should change current COVID-19 related mandates, such as business protocols and the quarantine for out-of-state travelers.
Previously, the highest daily counts were 34 cases reported on two separate days in early April.
Some of the cases reported Tuesday are linked to growing clusters, such as a string of infections that began after a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant training, which now includes 15 positive cases. Nine cases are associated with a gym.
The new surge comes weeks prior to a plan slated to begin in Aug. 1 that would allow travelers to bypass Hawaii’s 14-day quarantine if they show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. No new details were offered about the testing plan.
“We are considering what adjustments need to be made to the Aug. 1 program,” Ige said.
Ige and other officials are monitoring outbreaks in other states. Some countries have barred travel from the U.S. because of the outbreaks across the nation.
Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson called Tuesday a “wake-up call” and said the latest cases are more evidence that the virus is circulating widely within the Oahu community.
“The trends are very disturbing,” Anderson said. “The clear message is to wear a mask and stay away from others.”
The virus poses a threat to all islands, said Dr. Sarah Park, the state’s epidemiologist.
Park said in addition to COVID-19, more cases of the flu and common cold have been found, which is another sign that people are congregating in larger groups. Cases of the flu and cold declined significantly when Hawaii entered the first wave of infection in April and people were more cautious, she said.
Officials emphasized the public’s responsibility to keep a physical distance from people outside of their household, wear masks in public and wash their hands frequently.
“People need to not gather in groups greater than 10 and they need to wear a mask,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green told Civil Beat. “We are still in the middle of a pandemic.”
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