As numbers, clusters continue to increase DOH says personal responsibility is crucial

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — There were 23 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Hawaii on Monday, including three deaths.

The Department of Health’s Disease Outbreak Control Division (DOCD) reported that an elderly Kauai resident is the 22nd recorded COVID-19 death. The state said the man died out of state, in Arizona, where he had been receiving treatment for several months for underlying medical conditions.

In a news briefing on Monday, Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said:

We were informed by the Department of Health this morning that one of our Kauai residents has passed from COVID-19. He was in Arizona at the time, where he had been for several months, so he will not be counted as a Kauai case, however, he and his ‘ohana are part of our close-knit community and we take this news to heart. Our island shares in the heartbreak of this loss and we offer our prayers, love and support to his wife and family.”

“We all extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of these three people. The best tribute to their lives and to the lives of all 22 people who’ve lost the fight against coronavirus, is getting everyone in Hawaii to take personal responsibility for their own health and the health of everyone around them,” said State Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson.

The 21st fatality was also reported by DOCD over the weekend. An Oahu woman died in a local hospital Sunday morning and had previously been a resident of a care home.

On Monday, officials confirmed the 20th death, which occurred on July 7, as an elderly Oahu man with underlying medical issues. His death was added after a review of his health history and discussions with his primary care physician.

Twenty-three new cases were also reported on Monday, 19 cases were on Oahu, one on Hawaii Island, and one on Maui, and two out-of-state residents.

The statewide total now sits at 1,243, with 310 active cases.

The Hawaii Department of Health said clusters will continue to spread and they’re hammering down on the importance of social distancing and personal responsibility.

The state said most of the 86 cases recorded since Friday are related to previous clusters associated with community spread.

A total of 44 cases are now associated with a training activity at Hawaiian Airlines, in which a person infected during these meetings, is linked to a cluster of 20 cases involving two Oahu gyms.

“This is classic situation which emphasizes the importance of treating yourself, and everyone around you,  as if they’re infected with the disease,” said Dr. Anderson. “And assuring that you social distance, wear a mask and not go into situations that are hazardous or risky.”

Dr. Anderson said both gyms were small, had poor ventilation, and are now closed. The state has yet to reveal what gyms were affected.

In a statement to KHON2, Hawaiian Airlines said:

We can’t speak to DOH’s numbers, but can say that 17 of our employees who attended flight attendant training at our Honolulu headquarters have tested positive for COVID-19, while all employees involved in the classes have been self-monitoring their health, in accordance with CDC and state Department of Health instructions provided to us. None of the employees who became ill worked on our flights since attending the training, and we are supporting them in their recovery. We continue to safely operate our flights with multilayered health protocols to protect our guests and employees.”

According to State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park, “This clearly shows how easily and quickly this virus can spread from person-to-person and from place-to-place when people are not practicing physical distancing, not wearing masks, not staying home when sick, and possibly not washing their hands frequently and thoroughly.”

Health experts urge individuals and the community to maintain safe practices and encourage others to do so to prevent the continuation of a spike in cases.

Saturday had the greatest single day number of reported cases (42) since DOH began tracking cases in late February.

Other clusters, where community-spread is clearly the cause of additional cases, are pau hana gatherings, businesses, urgent care and long-term care facilities, and household clusters associated with social interactions (birthday parties, Father’s Day, 4th of July and religious functions).

“While the majority of Hawaii’s residents are using safe practices, clearly there are some who are not, and frankly unless everyone pays attention, we’ll unfortunately continue to see illnesses and deaths associated with COVID-19. Personal responsibility is the way we’ll again flatten the curve and retain Hawaii’s leadership through this unprecedented public health crisis. The upward trend of cases not only impacts people’s health but will likely delay our state’s economic recovery,” Anderson said.

As for care homes, Dr. Anderson said there have been 20 cases at care homes with three deaths reported since June 1.

For now, the health director said case numbers are manageable, but anything higher for several weeks could impact the state’s contact tracing.

“If we have 40 to 50 cases a day every day, that would stress our staff,” he said.

The DOH said other clusters are linked to community spread from pau hana gatherings, business parties, beach gatherings, and urgent care facilities.

The DOH is reminding residents that they need to be vigilant when socializing.

“Contact tracing and testing is not going to help keep the disease out of Hawaii or keep the disease from becoming an issue here,” said Dr. Anderson

“It’s up to all of us to keep the disease from spreading in Hawaii, if you want to open our schools, or colleges to open here, we have to have a safe environment,” he said.

Health experts said the state can expect to see an increase in the number of cases this week due to the July 4 holiday weekend.

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