Nearly 600 cases reported in 2 days, officials urge people not to gather


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) reported 264 new cases on Friday, Jan. 8, a slight decrease from Thursday, Jan. 7, when 322 cases were reported. The holiday uptick is starting to mirror statistics from the summer surge and the numbers are a concern to some health officials.

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The case numbers on Thursday, Jan. 7 were one of the highest reported since the pandemic began in March.

In a little over a week the state went from averaging 103 daily cases on Thusday, Dec. 31, 2020, to averaging 156 daily cases on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

Health officials said, they knew there would be holiday gatherings but are now urging people to take a break from gathering for two weeks so case numbers can go back down and hospitals do not become overwhelmed.

“This is a big increase in the number of active cases, 1,950 in the last 14 days, that’s probably 600 or 700 higher than we were a month ago,” explained Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “And that will translate to 40 to 50 extra people in the hospital.”

Lt. Gov. Green said, although hospitals are not overwhelmed at the moment, if numbers continue to remain high for the next several weeks the state could see a similar situation as it did in the summer.

“We have 110 people basically in the hospital, we had been the 60’s a couple weeks ago. So, the number of hospitalizations does follow the number of cases,” he explained. “It could get way, way worse, if we don’t buckle down.”

Green said the state’s cases are largely due to community spread and gatherings.

“It’s been small clusters, families coming back after parties spreading it between spouses and children, that’s where you get cases,” he said.

“There’s been a misconception that it was connected to travel, it’s not. Travel-related cases are very low,” Green said.

There were 3,597 COVID-19 cases in December, according to the Hawaii Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard. The website states 2,702 — or 85% — of the cases were due to community spread, 298 — or 9% — were travel-related from non-residents and 163 cases were travel-related from residents.

The state dashboard also states there are three areas that reported over 100 cases in the last two weeks; Aiea reported 160 cases, Ewa Beach reported 115 new cases and Kahului reported 101 new cases.

Maui County officials said, the Valley Isle’s outbreak is largely due to holiday gatherings and a large cluster at the Harbor Lights Complex in Kahului, which has grown to 92 cases as of Friday, Dec. 8.

Mayor Michael Victorino and DOH District Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang are also asking people to avoid gatherings for a few weeks.

“Before we had maybe 12 people, now we have 12 little clusters and that’s from parties and if we could just cool it on the parties for a while,” Dr. Pang said during a press conference on Friday, Dec. 8.

Mayor Victorino did send a request over to Gov. David Ige but would not say what he asked for and said, he would inform people if Gov. Ige approves of his requests or not.

He did ask that people in Maui County continue to follow the rules that are in place for everyone’s safety.

“If we don’t become more cognizant of our behavior and do the right thing, than we will have to move to a safer at home and that would hurt a lot of businesses and the people of Maui county and that’s something I want to avoid,” Victorino said.

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