HONOLULU — Hawaii reported 41 additional cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, the most in one day since the pandemic began.
The increase, coming after 29-case increase on Friday, is an indicator the virus was circulating more widely and was part of a “disturbing” trend, said Bruce Anderson, the director of the state Department of Health.
“This is a wake-up call for all of us that (COVID-19) is still a serious threat in Hawaii,” Anderson said at a news conference.
He said most cases in recent months had been associated with known clusters of cases. But that has increasingly not been the case, he said.
Hawaii has had the lowest infection rate per capita among the 50 states along with the lowest hospitalization and fatality rates. The state held the numbers down in part due to stay-at-home orders maintained in March and April, mask-wearing rules and a requirement that arriving travelers quarantine themselves for 14 days.
Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidemiologist, said while most of the new cases were on Oahu, the danger and risk remained statewide. She urged people to continue to wear masks, keep their distance from people not in their household and wash their hands.
“The common theme is people are letting their guard down,” Park said.
The previous single-day record for the state was 34 cases, recorded on April 3.
Still, Gov. David Ige said the increases were expected as the economy reopened and Hawaii was well-prepared for them. Hawaii’s hospitals have adequate intensive care unit beds and ventilators and the healthcare system was not threatened, he said.
He said any changes on whether to roll back rules allowing businesses to reopen and activities to resume would be made consulting data and talking to the state’s mayors. He said health and welfare was his highest priority.
The governor said officials were monitoring the record number of cases on the mainland, including in Texas where additional daily cases topped 10,000 for the first time, as the state pursues a plan to allow travelers to be tested for COVID-19 to bypass a 14-day quarantine rule beginning Aug 1.
Ige said pre-travel testing would reduce the risk an infected person would enter Hawaii. He said it would be part of a layered screening system that would also include temperature checks at airports. The state is also working with hotels to have them educate travelers about their public health responsibilities in addition to the need to protect Hawaii’s natural environment and respect Native Hawaiian culture, he said.
Monday’s increase brings the state’s total cases since the outbreak began to 1,071.
Nineteen people have died of the disease on the islands and 119 people have been hospitalized.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.