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Five Days Of Triple-Digit COVID-19 Case Counts Could Threaten Reopening Ahead Of Holidays

AP Photo/Caleb Jones

Updated: 11/8/2020, 3:21 p.m. Five days of triple-digit daily case counts have created mounting concerns that the state, particularly Oahu, could be slipping back into another surge in infections that would force a retreat in reopening efforts.

The state Department of Health reported one death and 128 new COVID-19 cases today. It was the fifth consecutive day that new cases have reached three digits. On Wednesday, 156 new cases were reported, followed by 100 on Thursday, 122 on Friday and 128 yesterday.

Today, Oahu had 105 new reported cases, Hawaii County 19, Maui 2, Kauai 0, Lanai 0, and Molokai 0. Two more cases were diagnosed out of state. Statewide cases reached 15,947 and deaths rose to 221.

Oahu has now had 13,810 cases, Hawaii County 1,405 cases, Maui island 425 cases, Lanai 106 cases, Kauai 71 cases and Molokai 17 cases. One hundred thirteen cases have been diagnosed out of state. One out of state case was reclassified to Oahu based on updated information.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell issued a statement yesterday, again urging Oahu residents  to take precautions.

"Now is not the time to give up. Going into the next few months we have an opportunity to keep the numbers down and continue moving forward. I know this is difficult. I am asking everyone, if you gather, please gather safely," he said.

"Gather in groups of five or less for now. Wear your face coverings even when you’re around your close friends. This won’t be forever, but if we all do our part now we can save lives, keep our community healthy, keep our economy open, and work toward a more normal way of life."

Officials are learning more about the origin of COVID-19 cases, said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

"It's large gatherings, social gatherings, that are causing the spread," he said in an Instagram video on Thursday. In addition, he said, as people return to work not wearing masks, cases are also appearing.

Timed to the holidays, the state Department of Health has produced an advertising campaign reminding people to avoid large gatherings, which it said is the primary cause of COVID-19 clusters.

The department said in a news release virtual celebrations pose the lowest risk for spread of the virus. But given the reality that people will socialize, the public service announcements aim to show how to safety gather with family, friends and co-workers.

Among the department's guidance:

• Consider the rate of COVID-19 cases on the island where you live when planning a gathering. Information on daily cases and the prevalence in each county is posted on the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency website.

• Outdoor gatherings are generally less risky than indoor ones. Hold event outdoors or open doors and windows if indoors.

• Shorter celebrations are safer. The longer the event, the more risk of exposure. 

• Limit the number of invitees. The more people at a gathering, the higher the risk. 

• Maintain a distance of at least six feel from those who aren't from your household.

• Out-of-state guests who receive a negative result from a pre-travel test will present less risk. But they may still pose a higher risk than those who live nearby.

• Avoid those exhibiting risky behaviors. Those at gatherings who don't maintain a physical distance, wear masks or wash their hands often pose more risk of exposure. 

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