HONOLULU (KHON2) — Twenty-five new cases reported on Sunday, July 5, by the state Department of Health brings the statewide total to 1,023.
All of the new cases are on Oahu.
The death count remains at 19 and there were no new hospitalizations. 777 people who tested positive have been cleared. Two-hundred twenty seven cases, however, are active. Sunday was the third straight day of 20 or more new cases.
KHON2 spoke to the state epidemiologist about the new case numbers. Dr. Sarah Park tells us that there are few that are known close contacts of confirmed cases, but a number of them are new. Officials are also seeing a common theme. Dr. Park says that they’re seeing a commonality in these new cases in the last week and it has to do with people gathering. Something that’s been happening over this 4th of July weekend as well.
“As we investigate, the commonality among many is that people admit that they are gathering with others and it could be a handful of people, it could be larger group gatherings,” she said.
Dr. Park tells us that they’ve been getting the sense that people are feeling safe around friends and co-workers, so they aren’t necessarily wearing their masks. People are also probably interpreting the reopening of businesses as being in the clear but COVID-19 is still in our communities. She says that it’s okay for people to get together as long as everyone keeps their distance and wears a mask, especially around those they don’t live with.
“We naturally let our guard down around people we know right and that’s probably the biggest risk,” said Dr. Park.
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green tells us in eight to 10 days we’ll see case numbers reflect this holiday weekend.
“The reason why I worry is because 30 was about the threshold that the Department of Health started getting strained to trace and track. Then in other parts of the country, they kind of gave up after the numbers got too large. We don’t want to do that,” said Lt. Gov. Dr. Green. “So hopefully, it won’t be too bad. Outdoor gatherings are much less risky than indoor gatherings, so we’re hoping that that makes a difference.”
While the state has a much greater capacity to trace cases than before, Lt. Gov. Dr. Green says that we may need more contact tracers if we consistently have cases in the 20s and 30s.
“I’m pressing to have 500 tracers total activated by August 1st. I think it’s prudent to have that many people ready,” he said. “And then I also want to see us get up to the capacity to do 10,000 tests a day from 5,000.”
Unlike the flu, there is no vaccine for COVID-19. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell suggests safety measures need to become second nature.
“I think the mandate we issued on Thursday is a good reminder and if we practice this just like brushing our teeth, we can manage opening up but that’s in all of our hands really,” he said.
On Thursday, Mayor Caldwell signed a mandate requiring folks to wear face coverings indoors and in outdoor areas where you’re not able to social distance.
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