On July 7, 41 new COVID-19 cases were reported by the DOH, 1 case from Hawaiʻi Island, 2 from Kauai, and the rest from Oʻahu. This is the state’s highest single-day increase since the beginning of the pandemic.
“It is the highest we’ve had, and it is concerning. However, as we re-opened our economy, we expected this. We are tracking this very closely and it is manageable right now. We have the ability to test people we need to test, and DOH has significantly increased the number of people available to trace the contacts of positive cases,” Gov. David Ige said.
While this surge in cases has sparked concerns regarding the further re-opening of tourism, businesses and facilities in Hawaiʻi, Ige says no future decisions have been made and will be made based upon collaboration with county mayors and other leaders.
“As we have done in the past, we will continue to make decisions based on the best available science and facts. We have not made any decisions yet and will let you know as soon as any changes are necessary,” Ige said.
DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson stated that none of the new cases are associated with clusters currently being investigated and that spikes in cases are expected. However, he said clusters that reported high infection rates were not practicing proper social distancing guidelines or wearing face masks.
“Now more than ever it is critically important for everyone to wear a cloth face mask whenever outside of their home. Many of the clusters we have been investigating are associated with situations where a mask has not been worn or physical distancing was not exercised,” Anderson said.
The DOH is monitoring a cluster of cases associated with Hawaiian Airlines in which 13 of the reported cases are staff and 2 are close contacts of employees. A cluster of 9 cases was associated with a Honolulu gym which reported to have poor ventilation and insufficient physical distancing and another cluster of 17 cases was reported on Kauaʻi. Other clusters from food and hardware distributors were also reported.
Additionally, Senate President Ron Kouchi reported a staff member working in the State Capitol Senate office to have tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. All staff in the office were tested and reported negative for COVID-19.
To combat the recent surge, the DOH has hired more contact tracers. However, State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park emphasizes that it is the disregard of safe practices that will allow the disease to continue to spread.
“This latest report shows COVID-19 is widely circulating in our community. The numbers today will likely continue, at least at this level, if people continue to disregard using their masks and physical distancing. While we have an increased number of staff at DOH and are in the process of hiring newly trained contact tracers, the community must adhere to safe practices - as no amount of contact tracing and testing will combat a respiratory pathogen alone,” Park said.