DOH director troubled by growing signs of community spread


Here in Hawaii, there were 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The statewide total is now 120. The Big Island, Oahu, and Maui saw new cases.

The Hawaii Department of Health says most of the new patients are Hawaii residents. Overall, eight people required hospitalization.

Health officials say they’re starting to see more signs of localized community spread.

The director of the health department told the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 he doesn’t think there is wide community spread of the virus at this point. However, he’s troubled by the new cases because they are believed to be locally transmitted.

“And that’s obviously a point of concern. Exclusively we were seeing the illness associated with travelers in this epidemic. Now we’re beginning to see signs of local transmission,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson, DOH Director.

He says that reinforces the need for strong measures on social distancing, and for residents to stay home as much as possible. The good thing is that we haven’t seen a big wave of local transmission cases. If that happens, he says the state is prepared for it.

Anderson adds that the state is also now considering putting interisland passengers on the 14 day quarantine just like all other incoming passengers.

“That is being discussed, so that would essentially shut us off from other jurisdictions where the disease is occurring and help protect us against the importation of the disease,” said Anderson.

Getting more people tested is another way to fight the pandemic. The city will once again provide free drive-thru testing for COVID-19 this weekend. Saturday will be at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex, and then Sunday at Kakaako Waterfront Park, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. both days. These are strictly for those with symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Officials say the plan is to continue testing every weekend, and be able to identify the hotspots.

“We’re gonna aggressively talk to the contacts, isolate everyone, test family members. Then you repeat it. Then you repeat it, and that’s how we keep everyone safe,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich of Premier Medical Group Hawaii.

Crews tested more than 400 people last Saturday in Kakaako.

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