HONOLULU (KHON2) — Friday the 13th was a particularly gloomy day for Hawaii as the state saw its highest ever recorded COVID-19 case count since the start of the pandemic. Governor David Ige called a news conference shortly after the Department of Health reported 1,167 coronavirus cases and one death, reiterating that the number is not entirely up to date.
Friday’s numbers are a mix of daily cases and those not reported earlier in the week due to an electronic laboratory reporting system error the DOH experienced for approximately 20 hours on Monday, August 10, and again on Tuesday, August 11.
As a result of the interruption, a delay in the reporting of cases occurred. On Wednesday, DOH officials reassured that test results would be fully updated by the end of the work week.
But that doesn’t mean Hawaii isn’t seeing an alarming rise in cases. Governor Ige took to Twitter to note that despite the lag, the average daily count over the course of those three days impacted by the data interruption is 729 per day.
“We continue to trend in the wrong direction,” Ige said, urging residents to follow COVID safety protocols such as wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, and washing your hands.
“Our behavior can save us. The actions we take each and every day can make a difference. We must change our behavior and take action,” Ige continued.
Yet, the situation continues to get worse with over 2,000 cases reported in three days.
Ige said he does not currently have any plans to bring back restrictions, but said that state, county, and health department officials are keeping a close eye on case trends, but some state officials said more needs to be done to stop the current surge.
“Governor lost an opportunity at his press conference today to lay out some more consequences for the public if numbers do not improve,” House Speaker Scott Saiki said after the press conference. “The governor should have been a little bit more decisive, he should have explained that if the numbers don’t improve then the state will have to take some action, to correct this situation.”
Speaker Saiki said he hopes the governor will consider implementing a health pass requirement in Hawaii which would require proof of vaccination to go to restaurants, gyms, and stores.
“My feeling is that those in Hawaii who are vaccinated, do not want to be put at risk by those who are not vaccinated,” Saiki continued. “So, while we respect the right of individuals to not be vaccinated, they should not put others at risk, they should not put children, other family members, and their neighbors at risk.”
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green agreed but added that large gatherings like luau’s should also be paused.
“From my perspective, gatherings of that size, are not consistent with the governor’s order,” Green said. “If you are really kind of honoring the intent of the gathering rules, which are 10 people inside, and up to 25 outside, there should not be large gatherings. Heck, we’re telling our kids not together and spread COVID, the least we could do is not have big gatherings and luaus and what have you right now.”
“Just chill out on that kind of thing, do not have those kinds of gatherings through Labor Day, and the case counts will come down,” Green added.
Hawaii Department of Health Director Dr. Libby Char was also in attendance.
“Our hospitals are full and we are at risk. With over 7,000 active cases in Hawaii, this virus is impacting every facet of our life, including our ability to respond,” Dr. Char shared, noting the dwindling number of Intensive care unit (ICU) beds left available across the state’s local hospitals.
Char went on to explain that the Delta variant causes faster and a more aggressive spread of COVID-19, with symptoms showing sooner in those affected.
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“Please be part of the solution,” Ige concluded.
Ige said the state is looking at adjusting safe travels but didn’t say what would trigger a change.