Health Department’s cluster report looks at ‘spillover’ cases on Maui

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii saw 122 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, March 25, plus one new death. The state’s death toll since the pandemic began is now 458 and the statewide total number of cases is 29,071.

There are currently 957 active cases in Hawaii.

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Oahu had 84 new cases on Thursday. Health officials are also keeping a close eye on Maui, which had 20 new positives. Officials say they will know if these new cases are linked to events like spring break or travel through contract tracing.

“We just don’t know yet and that’s why we do contact tracing,” said Brooks Baehr of the Department of Health (DOH). “We think the increase in cases, particularly here on Oahu, is probably the result of the loosening of restrictions on gatherings, particularly restaurants and bars.”

The City and County of Honolulu said in a statement:

“Oahu has seen an uptick in cases today and over the past week. Public health is the priority and the City continues to work with the DOH and health experts to assess current risks and make adjustments as needed. We continue to safely reopen the economy allowing more people to return to work. The community must also work together to prevent the spread of the virus by continuing to wear masks, remaining physically distanced and refusing to attend large unpermitted parties and events that have shamefully taken place recently.

The DOH director made this plea:

“Please, please, please don’t let your guard down yet. We will all get through this together,” said DOH director Dr. Libby Char.

The DOH is investigating a cluster in a Maui middle school where one cluster most likely “spilled over” into another. Officials say all the cases in the school cluster can be linked to source cases in their households that belong to two other clusters: one in a large, faith-based setting and another among hotel employees.

Investigators are also looking into three clusters associated with hotel and accommodation settings. There are a total of 15 cases so far and have been among hotel employees. All cases are residents and no close contact with visitors was reported.

“We know there’s community spread on Oahu and also there’s community spread on Maui. I think that the numbers themselves are okay. We are definitely watching it, trying to get more testing out there so that we can pick up on cases early,” said Dr. Char.

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