Hawaii Updates: 21 New Cases After Record-Setting Day; U.S. Census Takers Sought

Jul 12, 2020

Updated: 7/12/2020, 12:38 p.m.

Where we stand

Hawaii saw 21 new reported COVID-19 cases today after yesterday's record-setting 42 infections. The high case counts in recent days are further casting a cloud over the state's plan to ease restrictions on tourism starting on Aug. 1.

Of today's new cases, 18 are on Oahu, 1 on Hawaii Island and 1 on Maui. One case for Oahu was deleted following an update. The state's total coronavirus case count now stands at 1,220 with 19 deaths. 

Oahu has 923 cases, Maui County has 134, Hawaii County has 101 and Kauai County has 43. Nineteen residents have been diagnosed outside of the state. One hundred twenty-five people have required hospitalization and 890 people have been released from isolation.

Gov. David Ige has said officials are still evaluating the pre-travel testing program that would allow tourists to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine if they test negative 72 hours before taking their flight to Hawaii. The state will make an announcement when officials feel their preparations can protect residents and travelers, Ige said.

The four county mayors and Lt. Gov. Josh Green all support a delay in the Aug. 1 date, although there is no consensus on when the pre-travel test program could move ahead.

In his Instagram update yesterday, Green attributed the recent spike in cases to a "July 4 surge" -- a reference to the holiday gatherings that may have contributed to the spread of the virus.

The state Department of Health has not said the uptick in cases stems from the July 4 weekend. But the department has cautioned against social gatherings, some of which have lead to COVID-19 clusters in recent weeks. Green said the good news is Hawaii has enough intensive care unit and ventilator capacity.

In portions of Florida, Texas, and Arizona, cases have skyrocketed, leaving some hospitals without sufficient ICU beds and ventilators to care for the sick.

The 42 new COVID-19 cases yesterday was the most confirmed infections in a single day since the outbreak began. It followed Tuesday's 41 infections, which was the most daily cases up to that point.

Officials are tracking three separate clusters at the Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe as well as "sporadic cases" that more than likely reflect community spread occurring on the Windward side of Oahu, said the state's Joint Information Center by email.  

To date, 12 cases connected to the state hospital have been confirmed. As a precaution, the state tested at least 46 potential contacts in the clusters and all proved negative. 

Health officials said on Friday there have been 17 cases involving two Oahu gyms. State Epidemiologist Sarah Park has said the outbreaks were linked to one infected person participating in exercise class at one gym and someone infected from that class going on to another class at the other gym.

Park said gyms that operate with poor ventilation and without social distancing can be breeding grounds for infections, including the coronavirus.

Health Director Bruce Anderson reminded residents that COVID-19 is spread person-to-person by aerosols and droplets when people cough, sneeze and even breathe. 

"Perhaps most important is to stay home if you are feeling ill. Don't try to sweat it out," he said.

Visitors continue to arrive despite quarantine 

 

Friday arrivals totaled 2,268, including 611 visitors and 626 returning visitors. All are subject to the mandatory quarantine that requires they remain in their lodging for 14 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

 

Others arriving in the state included 250 crew members, 199 travelers in transit, 321 military members, 117 who are exempt from quarantine, and 144 who say they are relocating to the state.

 

Census workers sought for Maui and Kauai

 

The U.S. Census Bureau has openings for 600 temporary census takers on Maui and Kauai. The census takers will be visiting households that have not responded to the census and will gather their census data.

 

The workers will be following social distancing and wearing masks. They will be virtually trained in social distancing protocols and other health and safety procedures before they begin knocking on doors.

 

 

Applications are being taken on the census jobs website. According to the website, the hourly rate for Maui and Kauai is $24.

 

 

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.