3 More COVID-19 Deaths as Gov. Ige Announces Plans to Extend Visitor Quarantine
The increase in deaths and record count of daily cases comes as leaders continue to debate about plans to cancel the 14-day quarantine for visitors.
Monday morning came with a grim announcement from the state Department of Health. On July 13, it reported three more people died from COVID-19 in the past week, bringing Hawaiʻi’s total to 22. An Oʻahu woman who had been a resident of a care home died Sunday. An elderly Kauaʻi man died in Arizona after several months of treatment for underlying medical conditions there. The DOH also confirmed today an elderly Oʻahu man who died on July 7 was also tied to COVID-19.
The report comes two days after Hawai‘i set a new one-day record for number of infections; 42 were reported Saturday, July 11. As of Monday, July 13, out of the 1,243 cases reported since the state began keeping track on Feb. 28, including 23 new cases reported Monday, 332 people are still in isolation. Hawaiʻi still has a low positivity rate, with just about 1.3% of all tests coming back positive. Anything below 5% is considered good. In contrast, Florida, Arizona and other states are reporting positivity rates of more than 20%.
Still, the with the number of cases and deaths going up, Gov. Ige has reportedly decided to extend the 14-day quarantine for visitors until the end of August. Hawai‘i News Now reports that the governor told lawmakers about the decision during a briefing Monday morning. Leaders including Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Maui Mayor Mike Victorino and several county councils had recently expressed concern with the currently slated Aug. 1 date as the number of cases in various parts of the Mainland skyrockets.
In the same DOH press release, the state noted that they found links between three clusters—one tied to a Hawaiian Airlines training session and two at separate Oʻahu gyms—for a total of 44 cases.
“This clearly shows how easily and quickly this virus can spread from person to person and from place to place when people are not practicing physical distancing, not wearing masks, not staying home when sick, and possibly not washing their hands frequently and thoroughly,” says state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park.
Because the pre-travel testing program has been delayed until Sept. 1, university students coming from out of state less than two weeks before the fall semester starts will be given quarantine exceptions in order to attend orientation and classes on O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. Park and other state officials have been working with Hawai‘i Pacific University, Chaminade University, Brigham Young University–Hawai‘i and the UH system to develop rules for a modified travel bubble. Any student with a negative COVID-19 test will be able to participate in school-related activities during their 14-day quarantine, says UH President David Lassner, but nothing else. Students without negative tests will need to be in full lockdown until they test negative or 14 days pass. Lassner says everyone within the bubble will have daily health checks. More details will be announced this week.