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Hospitals prepare as Hawaii sees highest jump in virus cases

HONOLULU — A new wave of the coronavirus pandemic has Hawaii in “crisis” mode, with the state recording its highest single jump in cases and hospitals putting together overflow plans, Gov. David Ige said.

Nearly 1,170 new infections were reported Friday, he said at a news conference. That includes a small number of cases from previous days that were delayed because of a technical glitch, but still represents the largest single increase since the start of the pandemic.

“Friday the 13th has never been so frightening. It is real and it is terrifying,” Ige said. “And tragically, it’s preventable.”

The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated, officials said.

“Our behavior can save us,” Ige said in urging people to get inoculated and avoid gatherings. “The actions we take each and every day can make a difference in the battle against COVID. The choices we make can save us, and we can and must turn this around.”

The highest previous single-day count was 655, recorded last week.

Hawaii saw an average of 729 new cases over the past three days, the governor said. The state has a population of nearly 1.5 million people. Its seven-day positivity rate is now 7.4%.

Ige said hospitals are filling up and putting together surge plans.

“They are treating younger and younger people,” he said. “Yesterday, tragically, we reported a death of a man in his 30s.”

While the governor recently announced new limits on gathering sizes in places like restaurants and bars, the state is not yet imposing new restrictions on travel despite people flocking to the islands for vacation.

He said the state is, however, considering implementing additional virus mandates.

Department of Health Director Libby Char said now is a “horrible time to travel.”

“Stay home unless you have to travel,” she said. “You don’t know that the person on the plane sitting next to you doesn’t have this.”

Char also said the situation is impacting the department’s ability to respond.

“Today, I’m asking you to prepare like you would for a hurricane or other natural disaster,” Char said. “Take every step to protect yourself. We have tools to end this, and this crisis will not change until we do.”

The state has seen several new records in the past couple of weeks. Two months ago, the islands were reporting new daily case counts in the double digits.

Before July 30, the record high total for confirmed cases in a single day was 355 set in August 2020. The state then had case counts in the 400 to 600 range.

“The delta variant accounts for over 80% of our cases right now,” Char said. “It used to be that if you were fully vaccinated, you could do just about anything. With the delta variant being so pervasive, the fight has changed.”

Hawaii was once considered a success story as it enjoyed among the country’s lowest COVID-19 infection and death rates throughout much of the pandemic. Now, amid the surge of new cases, Hawaii’s hospitals are nearing an all-time high for coronavirus admissions.

Hawaii never lifted its indoor mask requirements, and 61% of all residents have been vaccinated. That percentage includes children, who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine.

The state requires people traveling into the state to produce either a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination to avoid quarantine.
Source: The Garden Island

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