HONOLULU — After nearly six weeks of elevated numbers of positive COVID-19 cases, Hawai‘i is beginning to turn the corner and regain control of the spread of the disease on all islands.
On July 29, the state Department of Health reported the number of cases had exceeded 100 for the first time. By early August, the daily number exceeded 200. The case numbers this week appear to be declining, with 169 new cases reported Friday. The seven-day, positive-case rate is 3.3%.
“This didn’t happen by accident or wishful thinking. It has been a collaborative effort,” sid state DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson.
”There is evidence the initiatives of the health department in partnership with other organizations such as the Hawai‘i National Guard and the University of Hawai‘i and the diligence of those in the community to wear their face masks and practice physical distancing are all working to decrease the number of cases in our state,” said Anderson.
”We are all doing our part to decrease disease transmission and flatten the curve.”
Anderson added a word of precaution: “But we cannot let our guard down again. If there are surges in the future, we can expect them to be smaller and last for a shorter duration because of our system in place to control the spread more rapidly.”
Green staff infected
A member of the Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green’s team has tested positive for COVID-19, and the office was notified at 9 a.m. on Friday. The office’s 14 employees, including administrative and executive teams and security detail, will quarantine and get tested.
Last Wednesday, Green received a routine COVID-19 test prior to his emergency-room shift, and the test was negative. Green was tested again Friday, as he was in close contact with the positive team member and will isolate accordingly. Green will share his test results once they are available.
“We are following proper protocols to ensure the health and safety of our team members first and foremost. Our thoughts are with our team member who tested positive for COVID-19 and wish them a speedy recovery,” Green said.
Two O‘ahu deaths and 167 new cases
One man and one woman from O‘ahu are the latest people to pass away from coronavirus. The man, in the 70-to-79 age group, had no known underlying health conditions, and died at home. The woman, in the 40-to-49 age group, did have underlying health conditions, and also died at home. Their deaths raise Hawai‘i’s pandemic death toll to 96. The DOH reported 167 new coronavirus cases Friday.
Pre-testing pilot program proposed
Members of the state Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 sent a letter to Gov. David Ige calling for neighbor island counties to serve as pilot-program testing sites for exclusive travel between neighbor island counties (Maui-to-Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i-to-Big Island), with the possibility of including O‘ahu interstate travel once the surge in cases subsides.
“This pilot project is a proactive measure that could yield important outcomes for our state while also providing a process for critical interisland travel during the pandemic,” the letter to Ige states.
”As evidenced by the DOT (state Department of Transportation) airport quarantine process, these systems require time to initialize, pilot and standardize so they can be scaled to peak capacity. The results yielded by the pilot program could provide valuable information that could be applied to an eventual trans-Pacific pre-test or bubble program, which would be a critical element to successfully reopening Hawaii’s economy,” states the letter.
At a special committee briefing, the state DOH outlined steps that would need to be taken by travelers seeking an exemption to the 14-day quarantine, including:
• Confirmation of a negative nucleic acid amplification test from a certified laboratory no more than 72 hours in advance of travel;
• Submission of electronic travel and health questionnaires;
• Completion of a pre-departure symptom screening;
• Completion of a post-arrival health screening;
• Taking of appropriate social-distancing measures taken throughout the travel experience, including masks being worn;
• Downloading of an optional location tracing app.
Source: The Garden Island