Contact tracing continues to be a major tool for the Department of Health in following the steps of the coronavirus within the community, the state’s lead epidemiologist said they are finding a recurring pattern in new cases.

State Epidemiologist, Dr. Sarah Park said the latest ups and downs in cases are not where the state wants to be as it expands services and travel. She said this is not the time for residents to let their guard down.

Park said, “The common thing we are seeing among our cases they were part of at least one gathering, usually they are family, extended family, maybe a few friends.”

The state’s contact tracers have found most of the new cases stem from gatherings with family and friends, and not so much from being out at shops or dining out at restaurants.

Park said the rise in cases comes from groups of people close together when spending time.

The month of May had several days with no new COVID-19 cases, in June the transmission trend began to go up.

Park said the state needs to go back to the numbers they saw in May, especially with the month of August approaching when travelers who test negative for COVID-19 are not subjected to quarantine.

“That’s not a good place to be, ideally we want to be is where we were a month ago, when we saw one case, or maybe zero cases a couple of days two cases,” Park said. “That’s where we want to be and that’s not to say that we have to be shut down to do that, what we need to do is maintain the same practices.”

As more businesses continue to reopen, Park said people must still exercise caution by maintaining distance from others and wearing a mask in public.

Lt. Governor, Josh Green, recently told KHON 2 News he would like to see 500 contact tracers ready to go by August, but Park said the state does not need that many tracers.

She said that amount of tracers would be required if the number of COVID-19 cases in the state increase dramatically.

Park said, “Instead of focusing on ‘we need this many contact tracers,’ I would ask that we shift the focus again on those safe practices, are we doing what we should be doing to make sure that we don’t reach that point.”

Park calls on residents to exercise caution at family reunions this Fourth of July weekend, especially if it is the first time seeing them since the pandemic started.