Lt. Gov. Josh Green called for a stronger, uniform statewide mask mandate on Sunday as Hawaii Island reported its highest single-day jump in new COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
“We need a mask mandate, if I can be direct. We need one that is very easy to enforce and we all have to commit to that. If we do, our numbers will drop,” said the West Hawaii physician speaking from Kohala Hospital in Kapaau, adding that the state’s mandate needs to be stronger, and uniform across all counties, from Kauai to Hawaii Island. He also noted a fine should be imposed, rather than the current misdemeanor offense.
Health officials reported 51 new cases of COVID-19 in Hawaii County, bringing the island’s total case count to 1,221. The island saw more cases reported Sunday than populous Oahu, which tacked on 49 cases.
According to the state health officials, 3.4% of those tested on Hawaii Island over the past 14 days have received positive results for the novel coronavirus. Since late February, 69,200 people have been tested in Hawaii County.
“For your information, the high numbers we are experiencing are concentrated in housing areas in North Kona and South Hilo Districts,” Hawaii County Civil Defense said in its Sunday morning update. “These numbers reflect the ongoing testing policies to identify clusters of positive cases so they can be isolated and treated to prevent the spread of the virus. The County will continue to identify and expand testing in areas based on known or suspected clusters.”
Drive-through COVID-19 testing will be available from 9 a.m. to noon today at the Keauhou Shopping Center in North Kona. There is no co-pay and insurance is not necessary to be tested, however, those seeking testing should bring their insurance card if they have one.
The new Hawaii Island and Oahu cases were among 121 positive results announced by the Hawaii COVID-19 Joint Information Center, bringing the statewide tally to 14,672 since Feb. 28. Of the remaining cases, two were on Maui and 14 were on Lanai, bringing that island’s total case count to 80.
As of noon Sunday, 3,267 of the 14,553 known cases were considered active, including 381 cases on Hawaii Island. An active case is defined as an individual who has tested positive for the coronavirus and is being monitored by the Department of Health.
Statewide, 1,065 COVID-19 patients have required hospitalization, including 61 on Hawaii Island, according to the center’s noon update.
Neither Hawaii County Civil Defense nor the state reported new deaths Sunday.
Of the 212 coronavirus-related deaths confirmed and reported to date among Hawaii residents to date, 165 were on Oahu, 18 were on Maui, 28 were on Hawaii Island, and one was a Kauai resident receiving treatment in Arizona at the time he died.
The state has yet to confirm 12 of the 40 coronavirus-related deaths reported on Hawaii Island. Twenty-seven of the deaths were among residents of the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo and another seven died at Hilo Medical Center, four at Life Care Center of Hilo and two at Kona Community Hospital.