Actively-sick COVID-19 growth rate dips negative for first time in Hawaii

Coronavirus

There are fewer people actively sick with COVID-19 in Hawaii compared to the day before, for the first time since numbers started being tracked in early March.

At KHON2 we’ve been closely tracking the COVID-19 testing and recovery numbers, and keeping an eye out for significant trends and signs of what’s working. Today we found a hopeful marker.

The state Department of Health has been reporting cumulative positive test results since early March. They began reporting recoveries in late March. Subtracting those recovered from the overall positive-test count yields a daily volume of known patients with active COVID-19, balancing also for the five fatal cases so far. Looking at the percent-change compared to the day before produces a daily rate of growth in overall patients still sick.

Source: DOH data compiled by KHON2

That growth rate was soaring before last week. The growth slowed last week. And for the first time today there was 1 fewer overall in the count of sick patients compared to yesterday, and it was the first time the overall rate of active illness did not grow — instead it went down.

We asked Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green to tell us what the numbers mean.

“I think that’s a reflection of being 11 days into the lockdown,” Green said, referring to the implementation of the two-week quarantine on out-of-state travel arrivals launched March 26, a few days after state and county stay-home orders went into place. “That’s been overall kind of the slow bending of the curve.”

He says the slowing growth rate the KHON2 analysis shows could also be a sign of more mild cases than severe ones so far.

“Also remember if people are sick there can be 5-7 days of sickness,” Green explained. “Of course it can be much longer if they’re severely ill.”

KHON2 asked: What should people’s takeaway be in the public?

“Their takeaway should be that this is working and it can only work if we continue to isolate at home and use masks and be very, very safe,” Green said. “We really would not be able to deal with many more thousands of people starting to go out again, so give it a couple more weeks and we’re going to be in the clear.”

Green also says he sees hopeful trends on the ground — fewer patients in ICU and on ventilators.

Currently statewide, the state and county stay-home orders apply through April 30.

Source: DOH data compiled by KHON2

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