HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Department of Health (DOH) reported 243 COVID-19 cases and three new deaths on Thursday, July 22.

It is one of the highest case numbers since the pandemic began, but unlike last summer’s surge, health officials said there is no end in sight with the highly contagious delta variant spreading. The mutated strain accounts for over 55% of cases statewide.

Hawaii has seen a full week of triple-digit coronavirus cases, which health officials attribute to widespread community transmission, the delta variant and unvaccinated people traveling.

“The blip after the Fourth of July [last year] was a tiny blip and went away very rapidly,” explained Dr. Janet Berreman, Kauai District Health officer. “This year, after the Fourth of July, what we’re seeing is rapid an exponential rise, and it is showing no signs of diminishing, it is continuing to increase.”

She said the July Fourth holiday is a contributing factor, but cases are mostly from the delta variant and residents traveling to the mainland.

“If you test on a Friday in Vegas, or anywhere else, and you are negative, but you go out Saturday night, get yourself infected, then you to travel back to Hawaii on Sunday, you’re going to bring the virus back to Hawaii with you,” explained Brooks Baehr, DOH spokesperson.

The DOH said 20% of new cases are travel-related and 27% of Thursday’s cases are in people under 18 years old.

“Unfortunately, we see that unvaccinated adults are still infecting children who are not eligible to be vaccinated, and much of what is happening now can be prevented if people will get themselves vaccinated,” Baehr added.

According to Lt. Gov. Josh Green, 78% of the cases from July alone are community spread. Another 20% are from residents returning from travel and 2% are from non-resident travel.

On Thursday, the DOH confirmed that the second breakthrough death of a fully vaccinated resident is an Oahu woman, between 60 and 69 years old, with underlying health conditions. The first case was reported on July 11 of an Oahu man older than 80, who was hospitalized with multiple underlying conditions.

The DOH said more than 99% of the deaths have been in unvaccinated people and 98% of those hospitalized recently have been unvaccinated.

Out of the 243 new COVID-19 cases reported Thursday, 50 cases are on the Big Island, 14 cases on Maui, 146 cases on Oahu, 8 cases on Kauai, and 25 diagnosed out of state. That brings the state total to 39,892.

Health officials have said all of the vaccines help protect significantly against severe illness and death.

“The situation is really urgent, with the rapid increase in cases and rapid spread of the Delta variant, now is the time for people who’ve been waiting,” Dr. Berreman said.

With 146 cases recorded on Oahu, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said the numbers are a concern.

“This is a very precarious situation that we’re in right now, I would venture to say, we’re in uncharted waters compared to any other phase of this disease,” he said on Monday. “And we just got to sort through, but clearly, we’re going to ask everybody who hasn’t been vaccinated to please reconsider their positions.”

The state cluster report also linked 31 cases to bars and nightclubs on Oahu. The DOH said it involved unvaccinated people not wearing masks.

The state death toll rose to 527 on Thursday and the state stands at 59.4% of vaccinated residents.

Here is an in-depth breakdown:

  • Hawaii County: 3,477 (50)
  • Honolulu: 28,338 (146)
  • Kauai: 485 (8)
  • Maui: 4,008 (14)
  • Lanai: 112
  • Molokai: 57
  • HI Residents Diagnosed outside of HI: 1,546 (25)
  • Required Hospitalization: 2,598
  • Deaths: 527
  • Cases in the past 14 days: 1,483

Probable Cases

  • Hawaii County: 81
  • Honolulu: 844
  • Lanai: 3
  • Kauai: 3
  • Maui: 852
  • Molokai: 24
  • HI Residents Diagnosed outside of HI: 62