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The Latest: 1 Death, 339 New Cases; Queen's Begins Antibody Study; Pine Endorses Amemiya

Simon Dawson/Pool via AP

Updated: 9/2/2020, 12:20 p.m.

Hawaii recorded 1 more death today and 339 new COVID-19 cases, the state Department of Health reported. The death brings the state toll to 75 and the total number of cases to 8,991. 

The 181 new cases raised the total number of COVID infections to 8,653. There have now been 8,149 cases on Oahu, 418 on Hawaii Island, 342 for Maui County, and 57 on Kauai.

Ninety of the latest cases had been previously diagnosed from Aug. 20-Aug. 31. Due to an error in reporting, they were not included in earlier counts. One case was recategorized from Honolulu to Hawaii Island and one removed from the Honolulu counts due to updated information. 

Yesterday, there were four deaths. All were elderly and had underlying medical conditions. The three of them were Oahu residents who had been hospitalized. A Big Island man who died was a resident at the state veterans home in Hilo where there has been a cluster of cases.

Yesterday's daily positivity rate dropped to 4.5% from 9% the previous day. Lt. Gov. Josh Green said on his Instagram video that the decline is good news and means the virus will begin to subside.

But he warned that there will be more deaths and new cases. "In the next 10 days, you're gonna still see a lot of cases, active cases, and you'll see a surge in fatalities, but then things will come down. We'll be able to reopen the state," he said.

State and city officials hope the stay-at-home order in effect for Oahu until Sept. 9 will work to lower the number of new daily cases that have been running in the triple digits for most of August and now into September. 

The surge in cases is stressing the capacity at local hospitals where a lack of enough health care personnel, especially nurses, remains a major worry.

Surge testing continues at various Oahu locations today. Register at doineedacovid19test.com and see details of where and when the testing is scheduled.

Among the latest cases:

• Three more staff at the Oahu Community Correctional Center tested positive for COVID-19. There were no positive results among inmates. The total cases among inmates stands at 289, 73 who are active, and a total of 66 staff members, 43 who are active.

• The Hawaii State Judiciary said employees at three different facilities have tested positive for COVID-19. One employee at the Honolulu District Court Traffic Violations Bureau received a positive test result on Aug. 16 and did not have contact with the public. A Hale Hoomalu Juvenile Detention Facility employee who last worked on Aug. 26 tested positive. The employee did not have contact with the juveniles at the facility. A Hoapili Hale (Maui) employee who was asymptomatic took the test as required by a new job and received a positive result. The person last worked on Aug. 31, had been in a courtroom and wore a mask. The latest cases bring to 10 the number of confirmed cases among Judiciary employees statewide.

Pine endorses Amemiya in Honolulu mayor's race

Former Honolulu mayoral candidate Kymberly Pine is endorsing Keith Amemiya for the city’s top post.

Pine came in fourth in the August primary behind Amemiya and Rick Blangiardi. The two will face off in the November general election.

Pine says people are tired of seeing leaders fight with each other during the pandemic but said Amemiya would bring people together.

“I have seen firsthand that he's the only one aside from, of course, what we were doing, in all of the debates and all of the things that he said, he actually had a plan to move Hawaii forward, to solve the crises at hand and to make sure that you're not forgotten,” Pine said in a video statement.

Pine will be termed out of the City Council on January 1st.

The candidate placing third in the primary, former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, has endorsed Blangiardi.

Queen's begins COVID-19 antibody study

The Queen's Health Systems has started an 18-month study to better understand the rate of COVID-19 infections among its employees. Participation is voluntary and offered to all of the system's staff and physicians.

About 3,000 to 5,000 employees are expected to take part in the study.

The volunteers will receive a baseline, six-month and 12-month antibody blood test. The data will give the hospital system insight into the rate of exposure to COVID-19 over a period of time compared to the community at large, said Dr. Todd Seto, the study's principal investigator.

The information will also provide Queen's with a better understanding of the health status of its workforce to address any safety and staffing needs, said Jill Hoggard Green, president and CEO.

This is a developing story. Please check back for upates. Editor's note: We’d like to hear how you’re coping with the latest COVID-19 developments and the state's phased reopening. You can call our talkback line at 808-792-8217. Or e-mail us at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.

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