Hawaii health officials recorded three deaths on Oahu and 110 new COVID-19 cases statewide on Wednesday.
Of the new cases diagnosed, 18 were on Hawaii island. Two Hawaii residents were diagnosed out of state. The remaining new cases were reported on Oahu.
One case from Honolulu and one case from Maui were removed from the counts, and one case from Maui was re-categorized as a Hawaii patient diagnosed out of state, according to the Department of Health.
Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency reported one more death on Hawaii island that is not yet reflected in the state’s fatality count.
Hawaii is just one week away from a planned launch of a program that will allow travelers with a qualifying negative COVID-19 test to bypass the state’s quarantine, despite some pushback from county mayors on neighbor islands.
The nation’s leading infectious disease expert addressed a Hawaii audience Wednesday in an interview with Lt. Gov. Josh Green on Hawaii News Now and said mask-wearing, washing hands and avoiding crowds remain the most important measures to prevent COVID-19 cases from rising.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said he recognized Hawaii’s “dilemma” — how to avoid a surge in cases but reopen the economy — but that he didn’t have a definitive answer.
“The reality is no matter what you do, there are going to be infected people who slip through the cracks,” Fauci said, noting that the state could consider ramping up its COVID-19 surveillance testing, or sample testing among certain populations, to measure the disease’s prevalence. Approximately 40% to 45% of people infected may never show symptoms, he said.
Fauci said he hoped a vaccine could be available by the end of the year.
On Oahu, where the most COVID-19 cases have been documented this year, a new framework for reopening is based on two metrics: the average number of daily cases and the average number of tests that return positive each week — a figure referred to as the positivity rate.
The average number of positive tests received on Oahu last week increased by 0.1 percentage point to 3.2% positive. The island saw an average of 73 new cases reported daily, down from an average of 87 cases as of Sunday. Statewide, the average number of positive COVID-19 test results reported daily has hovered around 2.6% during the last week.
The plan has four categories or tiers for reopening. Honolulu is beginning at Tier 1 — the most restrictive tier. The current case numbers and positivity rate on Oahu aligns with Tier 2, but the county has to spend four weeks in a tier before it can loosen restrictions, according to the reopening plan.
To reach Tier 4, the most relaxed tier, the island needs a seven-day average positivity rate of less than 1% and an average of less than 20 daily new cases.
There are approximately 2,251 people with active infections being monitored in Hawaii. Approximately 115 people are hospitalized and another 35 people are in intensive care units. Hawaii hospital beds are at 65% full and intensive care units are 55% full, including both COVID-19 patients and other patients.
The Department of Health has recorded 163 COVID-19 related deaths to date, but that does not include 18 deaths reported on Hawaii island. Civil Beat calculates 181 deaths so far, which includes 33 deaths in Hawaii County. Lags in state reporting are common as state health officials wait for information to verify COVID-19 fatalities.
For more information, check the Hawaii Department of Health COVID-19 site and the Hawaii Data Collaborative COVID-19 Tracking site.
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