LIHU‘E — The state’s average daily number of new COVID-19 cases has dropped to 706 over the past seven days, according to the state Department of Health.
The seven-day average, recorded daily, had climbed to a recent high of 898 on Aug. 29.
“This may indicate a slight reprieve in the numbers that we’ve seen,” DOH Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble told reporters during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
“But we’re definitely not out of the woods yet … Remember that, a month ago, 700 would be an incredibly alarming case count for our islands.”
The doctor said it is too early to properly assess the apparent downturn, noting that such data is occasionally affected by changes in disease-testing trends. It’s unclear if there will be any surge associated with this past Labor Day weekend.
“I think we really need to see how things unfold in the coming weeks before drawing conclusions about where the case numbers are,” she said.
Kemble also noted the seven-day average does not take forthcoming hospitalizations and deaths stemming from previously reported cases into account. This means Hawai‘i hospitals will continue to face staffing and bed shortages, and families will still lose loved ones, regardless of any drop in new cases.
“Tragically, we do anticipate seeing many more deaths reported out in the coming weeks from the cases that we’ve already learned about,” Kemble said.
She also discussed the rise of COVID-19 within the state’s pediatric population, which makes up a quarter of Hawai‘i’s total case count.
She indicated the uptick is not surprising.
“As the total number of cases go up, we’re going to see more children who are diagnosed and who ultimately end up in the hospital, just because the overall numbers are increasing,” Kemble explained, adding that kids’ current ineligibility for the vaccine may also affect the proportional and actual number of cases among kids.
One non-resident child has died of COVID-19 in Hawai‘i to date, according to the DOH. Thirty-seven adults have died in the past seven days.
Although it is too early to attribute a cause to the new downward case trend, Kemble cited public-health messaging and private businesses’ vaccine mandates as potentially responsible.
“I think more and more people are impacted by COVID on a day-to-day basis right now,” she said. “I think more people are seeing their families impacted … and understanding how the vaccine can benefit them by preventing that risk for themselves and for their families and loved ones.”
Scott Yunker, general assignment reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island