Gov. David Ige, state health director discuss highest number of new COVID-19 cases in pandemic


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gov. David Ige and State Department of Health Director Dr. Libby Char held a news conference on Friday to discuss the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

The DOH reported 622 new coronavirus cases and three new deaths on Friday, July 30. It’s the highest case count recorded for the state, however, it includes a backlog of cases that weren’t reported earlier this week.

On Wednesday, the DOH announced that the case count for July 28 would be a partial count due to an electronic lab reporting system interruption. The health department confirmed Friday’s numbers include cases from the past three days due to lab reporting delays.

“This is a result of some data reporting glitches we know,” Ige said. “We’ve had a lag in the reporting for the last few days. Even when you look at the data from the last three days, the three-day average is more than 300 new cases each and every day. That is an alarming number of cases.”

The second-highest record of new infections was reported on Aug. 13, 2020, with 355 cases, which included a cluster at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.

“It is a concern, the delta variant is very infectious,” explained Lt. Governor Josh Green. “That should not be minimized. If people are not vaccinated, they’re very likely to catch the delta variant if they’re inside without a mask.”

Of the 622 new COVID-19 cases reported on Friday, July 30, 359 are on Oahu, 111 on the Big Island, eight on Kauai, 74 on Maui and 70 diagnosed out of state. That brings the state total to 41,925.

Click here for an in-depth breakdown by counties and probable cases.

Governor Ige doesn’t plan to implement restrictions just yet.

“I can assure you that the point that I believe the hospitals have more patients than they would be able to handle, then we would take specific action to restrict movement as necessary,” he said on Friday.

According to Dr. Char, of the 622 new coronavirus cases, 25% are children. However, she believes it’s still safe for children to return to school next week.

“There is risk involved in everything, but I think we also have to be cognizant that there is a cost to not having children in school and having them fall further behind in learning and the continued social isolation,” Dr. Char said during the news conference.

Although Hawaii hit a milestone of 60% fully vaccinated residents on Thursday, health officials said a better case scenario would be if the state could hit a 70% vaccination rate.

“The Delta variant is driving the rise,” said Dr. Monique Chyba, UH Department of Mathematics, who contributed to a recent study. “Or else we would be in a very good situation. We would be completely in control, and there would be no question about it. We wouldn’t have a mask mandate in place, probably.”

Dr. Chyba said Oahu is on track to reach 700 cases if mitigation measures remain the way they are and the Delta variant continues to spread the way it is. She said that many cases would overwhelm hospitals and doesn’t believe the state will allow for the cases to reach that high.

Health officials continue to say that the longer people wait to get vaccinated, the better the chance of a deadly new variant to form. According to the CDC, even those who have had the virus before should get their shot because some areas have seen an increasing number of people who have caught it twice.

“We are seeing increased cases amongst those who are vaccinated,” Ige said on Friday. “It’s a very small percentage of the cases, but in most instances, those who are vaccinated who became infected with COVID had dropped their guard a little.”

The state health department said there have been 539 breakthrough cases among the 826,289 fully vaccinated Hawaii residents.

According to Dr. Char, the number of breakthrough cases comes out to 0.06%.

Which is about 6.5 people per 10,000 vaccinated people have been infected with COVID-19 which compares to 299 unvaccinated people per 10,000 of the general population.

“We’re seeing roughly six people out of 10,000 getting infected if they’ve been fully vaccinated, and we compare that to about 300 people per 10,000 getting COVID-19 if you’re not vaccinated,” said Dr. Char.

“If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re in good shape,” said Lt. Governor Green. “That’s a very important thing to remember if you’re fully vaccinated and if you catch COVID-19, a variant, you are not likely to get very sick.”

Since Sunday, July 25, 10 people have died from COVID in the state.

Three of the deaths were between 40 and 49 years old and one of the residents had no underlying health issues.

“I mentioned earlier we were going to see outbreaks and we’re seeing that, we’re seeing them right now,” Green said. “So this will die down, but it’s gonna have its cost, and the cost is some of our citizens aren’t going to make it out.”

Health officials said recent cases are from social gatherings, people going to work sick, and traveling to the mainland. On Friday, Lt. Governor Josh Green recommended returning residents flying home receive a COVID-19 test kit when they land, in addition to taking the pre-travel test.

“I hope that we can consider it, a lot of our own returning residents, if they were unvaccinated are going to come back with Covid, and we want them to quickly get a test,” Green said.

To see where you can get vaccinated, click here.

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