Hawaiʻi COVID-19 cases increase for the 7th week in a row
The state Department of Health reported Wednesday a seven-day daily average of 722 cases, up from 485 a week ago.
Nearly 9,200 positive cases have been reported over the last 14 days, not including at-home tests. That means COVID-19 cases in Hawaiʻi have gone up for the seventh week in a row.
Six additional deaths were also reported in the past week.
The health department is urging caution, masking and avoiding crowds — but did not recommend any policy changes or restrictions at this time. State-enforced restrictions ended on March 25, such as the indoor mask mandate.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said health officials are focusing on the severity of cases and not necessarily the "sheer number of cases."
"How many cases are ending up in the hospital? What kinds of risk factors do we see for people who end up in the hospital? Where are those people getting treatment when they should have? Because that's one thing we can intervene on, and try to get people treatment earlier so that they don't end up in the hospital," she said.
The health department said 91 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday. At one point in March, that number was down to 11.
“Hospitalizations continue to rise and ICU admissions are now also beginning to increase, so I think this is a really important juncture," Kemble said. “Case counts alone don’t tell the whole story, but we are now seeing the repercussions for severe disease and accumulating cases in our hospitals.”
As for those using at-home COVID-19 tests, if the initial test is negative, Kemble said you may need to repeat the test 24 to 48 hours later.
"There may be a little more of a delay before the virus builds up enough to show up on that home test. So this is the importance of staying home when you are sick. Even if you think it's just a small symptom. Stay at home when you're sick. Take that second test on day two. If you're, at that point, still testing negative then you can be more relaxed," Kemble said.
Kemble said Hawaiʻi is also seeing a rise in other infectious respiratory diseases, such as the flu.
"We're seeing the same thing now, which tells me that a lot of people are being less careful about masking and infection prevention kind of practices like hand washing and avoiding crowds," Kemble said at the press conference Wednesday.
"When you are now congregating and you're not having your mask on, and you're not thinking about those hygiene practices, but daily preventive practices, that it's not just COVID that can increase. It's also all the usual respiratory diseases we have seen in the past," she said.
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