The Latest: 152 New Cases; Health Director: Expect More Deaths As Surge Continues; 3 Inmates Postive

Aug 9, 2020

The Hawaii Department of Health reported 152 new cases today, bringing the state's total case count to 3,498. Oahu had most of the new cases. Out of total, 3,111 cases are on Oahu, 185 on Maui County, 131 on Hawaii County, and 48 on Kauai County. There have been 23 residents diagnosed outside of the state.

The director of the Hawaii Department of Health yesterday warned there will be more deaths as the state reported 231 new COVID-19 cases and its 31st fatality. The latest death is an Oahu man older than 60, the department said. The state adjusted the death toll after the doctor of an elderly woman said she likely died of an underlying condition,

On Friday, another two deaths and 201 new cases of COVID-19 were reported. The deaths were both Oahu men with underlying medical ailments.

The first was older than 60 years old and had been in the hospital, the state said. He died on Aug. 4 after exposed to a positive household member. The second, 40 to 50 years old, passed away on Wednesday at home. The Honolulu medical examiner reported the unattended death. His family reported he had symptoms but did not seek medical care. 

"Unfortunately, with the dramatic surge in cases, we can expect more deaths in the coming weeks,’ said Health Director Bruce Anderson. "Hospitals throughout Oahu are transferring patients and opening up new specialized COVID units to handle the surge in patients that is expected over the next couple of weeks.” 

Anderson said the city's closing of beach and parks and other high risk activities will help prevent the spread of the virus, but it is not enough, and that all residents need to take responsibility to curb the virus.

On Thursday, there were 152 new cases. The department highlighted the death of one elderly man having health issues who died in the hospital.

"The passing of this man really demonstrates how rapidly and invisibly COVID-19 is spreading through our communities, particularly on O‘ahu and particularly associated with clusters. A close contact of this individual attended a spin class at a gym taught by a person linked to the Hawaiian Airlines cluster," state Epidemiologist Sarah Park said.

Among the new cases and developments:

• The Hawaii Department of Public Safety reported yesterday that two more inmates at the Oahu Community Correctional Center have tested positive, bringing the total to three. On Friday, the department reported an adult corrections officer at OCCC also tested positive. In total, four ACOs at three facilities have tested positive. The Department of Health is conducting contact tracing of the latest inmate cases. 

• Two more firefighters from the Kalihi Kai Fire Station and one additional firefighter from the Hawaii Kai Fire Station have tested positive for COVID-19. The firefighters were already in self-quarantine when their tests were conducted. The Honolulu Fire Department currently has 14 firefighters who have tested positive: 6 from the Hawaii Kai station, 3 from the Moanalua station, and 5 from the Kalihi Kai station. All remain in self-quarantine. The department is redistributing its staff to maintain coverage in affected areas, it said in a release.

• Another TheBus driver has tested positive for COVID-19. Yesterday, the driver informed Oahu Transit Services, operator of the bus and handivan systems, of the positive test. He was placed on leave and quarantined. His last day of work was Monday and did not have any symptoms, the city said in a news release. On Monday, he drove bus #153 on route 42 (Ewa Beach-Waikiki) from 1:07 p.m. to 10:27 p.m. The city reminds riders that they should only take public transit for essential trips.

DLNR warns kayakers about closure of offshore islands

Officers from the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) issued warnings to 10 kayakers who illegally landed on Flat Island (Popoia) off Kailua.

 

All O‘ahu offshore islands, the Aha o Laku sandbar in Kāneʻohe Bay, and state and city parks and beaches are closed under the city's emergency order.

 

Passenger arrivals decline as COVID-19 cases surge

 

The Hawaii Tourism Authority reported 2,191 people arrived in Hawaii Friday, including 661 returning residents and 559 visitors.

Others arriving included 317 crew members, 232 transiting travelers, 117 military members, 99 passengers exempt from quarantine, and 206 travelers who say they are relocating to Hawaii.

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.