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State reports decline in COVID cases

LIHU‘E — Data released by the state Department of Health shows the number of COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i declined this past week, but Kaua‘i District Health Officer Janet Berreman is planning for a seasonal spike in cases as winter approaches.

From Aug. 29 through Sept.4, there were 47 new cases on Kaua‘i and 842 new cases statewide, compared with 82 and 1,312 new cases, respectively, the week prior.

Berreman noted COVID-19 cases had been trending upward statewide over the last several weeks, and only time will tell whether the recent decline is an anomaly.

“We always like to see the numbers coming down, but that doesn’t tell us that there won’t be a winter rise,” said Berreman in an interview with The Garden Island.

“I think that that’s what most of us in public health are anticipating will happen and what people should be preparing for,” she said, adding that the public can prepare by staying up to date with the flu and COVID-19 vaccines.

The DOH reported six new deaths from the virus statewide this past week — three on O‘ahu, two on Hawai‘i Island and one on Maui.

Notably, a male on O‘ahu between the ages of 0 and 17 years old with no underlying health conditions was reported to have died from the virus.

The second reported death was a female on Hawai‘i Island between 70 and 79 with underlying health conditions.

The other four deaths were people 80 or over, and it’s listed as unknown as to whether or not they had underlying health conditions.

There was also a total of four deaths reported the week prior — Aug. 22 through Aug. 28 — with all four being over the age of 80. Of those four deaths, one was on Kaua‘i, one was on O‘ahu, and two were on Maui.

A total of 2,001 deaths in the state have been attributed to the virus since the start of the pandemic.

Berreman said new variants of the virus are showing to be more contagious, but not more dangerous than older strains.

“That’s what allows (newer strains) to become dominant, is it outcompetes the older strains,” she said. “The good news is that none of the new strains seem to have caused more severe illnesses than the older strains. So they aren’t becoming more virulent.”

More in-depth data from the report shows Kaua‘i’s number of average daily cases for the seven-day period was seven and the test positivity rate was 9.9 percent, a decrease from 12 cases and a 23.6 percent test positivity rate the week prior.

Statewide, there was also an average of 129 new cases daily and a test positivity rate of 12 percent, a decrease from 170 new cases and a 14.9 percent test positivity rate the week prior.

There was also a decrease in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, with an average of 93 people hospitalized with the virus statewide during the seven-day period, compared with 108 the previous week.

Berreman pointed to the gradual rise in cases and hospitalizations nationwide as reasons to anticipate another increase on Kaua‘i.

“And from a public health perspective, we’re looking at COVID in the context of an anticipated winter increase in lots of respiratory viruses, including COVID and influenza and RSV.”

Berreman could not predict which virus would leave the biggest impact this year.

“Which one will do more damage? We really don’t know at this point, but they are different viruses with different characteristics,” she said.

“Public health will be watching closely and learning from them as we have been over the last three years.”


Emma Grunwald, reporter, can be reached 808-652-0638 or
Source: The Garden Island

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