Overall numbers remain low, but Hawaii health officials urged caution.

While case numbers remain relatively low, the Hawaii Health Department said there has been a slight increase in Covid-19 cases on Maui.

That raises concerns there may be an upward trend caused by displaced people living in congregate settings such as shelters since the Aug. 8 wildfires destroyed Lahaina, state epidemiologist Sarah Kemble said Friday.

“I think it’s particularly important at this time that people are aware of taking care of their health,” she said during a press conference.

Thousands of people crowded into shelters and other aid centers after fleeing the fire, although most have since been placed in hotels and other temporary housing.

On Wednesday, the Department of Health reported a seven-day average of 153 daily cases, an increase from July 10, when 87 average daily cases were reported.

In Maui, the number of average daily cases was 16 on Aug. 21. On July 8, one month before the Lahaina fires, the number was six.

There are still far fewer Covid cases being reported on Maui than there were a year ago. On Aug. 21, 2022, the seven-day average was 43.

Kemble encouraged everyone to get up to date on their Covid boosters and flu shots, though she acknowledged that getting vaccinated may not be a priority for many on Maui.

“I know there are so many other things to think about right now,” she said. “Testing for Covid is probably not top of mind when you’re worried about where you’re going to sleep the next day.”

Those who are at a higher risk of severe illness, including people 65 and older, should consider wearing masks in public settings, she said.

The Department of Health has not seen an increase in Covid-related hospitalizations on Maui, but Kemble said those numbers often lag behind an increase in cases. 

She said the department is making sure hotels and other places where displaced people are staying are stocked with masks and test kits.

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