The Department of Health reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 today, the highest single day increase for the state of Hawaiʻi since April 2.
“Today’s spike in positive cases was anticipated as we began the process to re-open our community. It is still manageable, but it serves as a reminder that we must continue to be vigilant in the battle against COVID-19, especially because of the potential harm that the virus can cause to our most vulnerable populations,” Gov. David Ige said in response to today's report.
A majority of the cases are from adult care, long-term nursing facilities, large households and communities of faith. Health officials are emphasizing safe practices when in crowded settings.
“These clusters really emphasize our call for the continuation of safe practices, including physical distancing, using face coverings, frequent hand washing, and staying home and away from others when sick. Virtually all of the newly reported cases of COVID-19 are due to community-spread, often from a group setting,” State Epidemiologist Sarah Park said.
With the recent protests in support of Black Lives Matter, there has been speculation that these large gatherings, some estimated up to 10,000 people, have contributed to the sharp increase in cases. There has not yet been evidence to show this to be true.
“At this time there is no evidence that recent protests have led to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i. Nonetheless, we continue to strongly encourage physical distancing and the use of face masks when people are engaged in practicing First Amendment rights, or while in any other large gatherings, with people who don't live in the same household,” Park said.
In response to the spike in cases, the DOH again emphasizes that they are continuing their extensive contact tracing program to educate and reach out to communities and individuals affected by COVID-19.
As inter-island travel and businesses resume operations with social-distancing policies, an increase in cases is to be expected. DOH Director Bruce Anderson encourages everyone to act with caution.
“Once again we fully anticipated an increase in COVID-19 cases associated with more community activity and business re-openings. This is the critical time, with this week’s resumption of interisland travel and the re-opening of other air travel at some point in the future, for all of us to act with care, to protect our loved ones, particularly our kupuna, and to continue physical distancing, face masks, and all of the safe practices that have now become our new norm…at least for now,” Anderson said.