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Kaua‘i continues to see rising COVID-19 case counts after holidays

LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i continues to see three-digit COVID-19 case counts, recording 104 new infections on Monday, according to the state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office.

”COVID cases continue rising as the omicron variant spreads statewide,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said Monday. “Our case count on Kaua‘i is spiking.”

For the last week of the year, the county had a seven-day case average of 114 cases per day.

“To put this into perspective, our average was just under 50 cases a day a week ago, and Kaua‘i averaged 15 cases a day just two weeks ago,” Kawakami said.

Monday’s 104 case count is on the lower side, with officials expecting more to come following holiday gatherings and travel.

“(Monday’s) daily case count is likely lower due to reduced testing over the holiday weekend,” DOH Kaua‘i Deputy District Health Officer Lauren Guest said.

Officials also reported the COVID-19-related death of a female resident in her 70s who was hospitalized.

“We are sad to start the New Year with another Kauai fatality due to COVID-19,” Kawakami said. “We offer our deepest condolences to her ‘ohana and loved ones.”

To account for the surge, the county’s incident-management team and KDHO are both hiring additional staff. The Hawai‘i National Guard remains on hand to support county response.

“As our case count continues to rise rapidly, we are streamlining our work — focusing on the initial-case-investigation calls and gathering the most-essential information,” DOH Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said. “The workload is very heavy, and our calls are not always as prompt as we would like them to be.”

“If you feel sick, even just a little bit, or if you’ve been exposed, please get tested and then ‘do the right thing’ with the results while you wait to hear from us,” Berreman said. “If you test positive, isolate at home and notify your close contacts. If you’ve been exposed, get tested and quarantine at home if you’re subject to quarantine.”

This week, the state has changed its isolation and quarantine guidelines to be in line with federal recommendations.

Under the new rules, individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, must isolate for at least five days and remain in isolation until symptoms disappear. Mask-wearing is required for five days after isolation.

Those who have been boosted or fully vaccinated within the past six months (or within two months for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) do not need to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19, but must wear a face mask for 10 days and get tested on day five.

Those who are not vaccinated and are also not boosted but have been exposed to COVID-19 must quarantine for five days, wear a mask for five days after that and get tested on the fifth day.

To be exempt from quarantine if you are a close contact, you must have your booster in addition to initial vaccines unless you were vaccinated recently, Berreman said.

Those who are vaccinated but have not had a booster or are not fully vaccinated are subject to quarantine as close contacts.

“So please get your booster, both to protect yourself and our community and to avoid needing to quarantine if you are a close contact,” Berreman said. “Even with these new guidelines, cases who test positive and close contacts need to wear a mask whenever they are around other people for a full 10 days.”

Monday’s cases bring the number of active cases to 706, with seven hospitalized.

Because of the new quarantine and isolation requirements, the KDHO will be assessing current cases.

“As such, we will be assessing all of our current cases who are past day five and release all of those who are asymptomatic,” Guest said. “This will mean that our active case number will drop significantly tomorrow.”

To date, the county has recorded 4,436 cumulative cases.

Pediatric vaccines for those 5 to 11 are available at Walmart, Longs Drugs at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e and Kaiser Permanente.

Mobile clinics for those 5 and older are available at Kanuikapono Public Charter School in Anahola and the Kekaha Neighborhood Center Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. Walk-ins are accepted, and minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Vaccine locations can be found at kauai.gov/vaccine.

The Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu‘e is open daily from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for testing. Appointments for free drive-thru testing at Lihu‘e Pharmacy be made at AlohaClear.com. Testing locations can be found at kauai.gov/covidtest.

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Sabrina Bodon, editor, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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