Hawaii recorded 655 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily case count in the state since the pandemic started more than a year ago.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency released the latest numbers Thursday.

The new count surpassed last week’s high of 622 cases, which officials said included earlier cases due to lab reporting delays.

“This delta variant is surging through our unvaccinated population,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green Thursday in an Instagram video about the cases.

Waimanalo Health Center Moderna COVID-19 vaccine box.
The vast majority of Hawaii’s COVID-19 cases have been among unvaccinated people. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

The highly contagious delta variant now makes up an estimated 81% of the state’s coronavirus cases, according to a report released Wednesday by the Department of Health.

The delta variant composes 84% of Honolulu’s coronavirus cases and 85% in Hawaii County. The report found the variant made up a lower percentage of cases in Maui County and Kauai County, at 70% and 60% respectively.

The analysis emphasized vaccination is still a strong defense against new variants.

“It is important to note that evidence to date shows that vaccination leads to milder cases, not requiring hospitalization, for all the variants of concern and variants of interest that are described here, even if the efficacy of antibodies is diminished against some of these variants compared to the original version of the virus,” the report said.

State health officials said at a press conference Thursday that 95% of hospitalizations in Hawaii are among unvaccinated people.

Hawaii’s average daily case count has shot up to 436, a 193% increase between July 21 and Aug. 3.

The statewide positivity rate is 6.9%. Honolulu County’s test positivity rate is 7.3%, and Hawaii County’s is 8.3%.

Kauai County’s is much lower at 3.3%, while Maui County’s is 5.6%.

Thursday’s daily case count included 428 cases on Oahu, 131 in Hawaii County, 69 cases in Maui County and seven in Kauai County.

More than 60% of Hawaii’s population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, but the highly contagious delta variant has continued to drive cases, largely among the unvaccinated.

More than 67% of the state has initiated vaccinations. Gov. David Ige set a statewide vaccination of 70% as the benchmark for lifting coronavirus-related restrictions.


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