COVID-19 hospitalizations surge as Hawaii continues to see triple digit numbers

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Department of Health reported 144 cases Tuesday. It said it is seeing COVID-19 clusters pop up from all kinds of gatherings. This has led to almost double the amount of COVID-19 hospitalizations within the span of two days.

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“We’ve surged from about 75 to 138 in our hospitals,” said said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “This is what happens when you have a series of days over a hundred, so I’m very concerned.”

Many of these cases can’t be traced back to old clusters, but new ones.

“We have cases associated with a wide variety in Honolulu. Most are new cases we haven’t identified through previous contact tracing. That suggests that there’s widespread illness,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson, Department of Health director.

Recent clusters being investigated include 71 cases linked to funerals on Oahu, 12 cases associated with a birthday party and six cases linked to a hot yoga class.

“Funeral events, is again, one of the areas we can perhaps more aggressively make some changes, and we’ll be working with the counties to figure out how we can better address that,” said Anderson.

The Big Island also saw a total of five cases, and Anderson said many of them were travel-related.

The Department of Health has had to bring on additional staff to help with contact tracing. Ten national guardsmen have been called in and dozens of full-time staff have been added.

“We’ve been ramping up to deal with the increase in cases the last couple of weeks. Last week we have 70 or so full time working on this. This week we started with a hundred,” said Anderson.

With cases rising and staff increasing, he said they are looking at growing their contact tracing headquarters.

“We are looking at the Convention Center to house staff. We’re growing out of the buildings we’re in and are going to need additional space to expand into as we hire more staff,” said Anderson.

Anderson said this recent triple digit trend up in COVID-19 cases will make things difficult with the new school year set to begin in two weeks and the lifting of the travel quarantine in September.

“It doesn’t look good, certainly for the schools. We can’t open schools if your community isn’t healthy. You’re just asking for disaster,” said Anderson.

Lt. Gov. Green is also pleading for people to take a step back from gatherings.

“Immediately stop any gatherings of any size whatsoever. Just be with your household if you can for social purposes, because the numbers surging as they are have caused extra hospitalization, and it is a health concern now.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green

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