Big Island Coronavirus Updates

As COVID-19 Cases Trend Down, Officials Warn Against False Sense of Security

April 13, 2020, 11:15 AM HST
* Updated April 13, 11:50 AM
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Wikipedia image.

Hawai‘i reported only five new cases of coronavirus overnight, bringing the statewide total to 504.

Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson relayed the figure to the House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness Monday morning. DOH will release its official numbers around noon Monday and publish them on the tracking portion of its website.

The comparatively low number of reported COVID-19 cases is the third in a recent trend, following two days late last week that saw bumps of only seven and 13 confirmed cases to the statewide total.

However, Anderson expressed concern that these numbers might instill a false sense of security in the public consciousness, as health experts expect COVID-19 infection levels to ebb and flow until a vaccine is developed. That process could take between one and two years.

“There are still a lot of people out there not following the stay at home order,” Major General Kenneth Hara, director of the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency, told the committee. “Those few who do not follow (the order) could create a huge influx and spike.”

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Current tests available in Hawai‘i only measure if a person has the virus at one particular moment in time. They may not detect the virus if it hasn’t established itself significantly inside the body. Tests don’t indicate whether the patient has antibodies from previous exposure and is, therefore, less likely to become reinfected.

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It only took one person who was sick to go to work at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Hara said. Now, up to 35 healthcare professionals and patients have tested positive for coronavirus because of that decision, creating the state’s first confirmed case cluster.

Anderson said 30 to 40 close contacts are not unusual for every positive case of the virus.

According to Hawai‘i County Civil Defense, the total number of people to test positive for COVID-19 on the Big Island is 36. Of those, 25 have been cleared as recovered. The remaining 11 are quarantined at home and are being closely monitored by DOH.  To date, no one on Hawai‘i Island has required hospitalization as a result of infection.

DOH reported a total of 39 cases on the Big Island as of Sunday at noon, three more than the county’s tally published nearly 24 hours later on Monday morning. Discrepancies between state and county numbers on positive results have been small, only a few cases at most, but common.

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Reasons for this could include confirmation of pending cases on the state’s end or possibly different rates of reporting positive cases to various government authorities.

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