Community Spread of COVID-19 Grows More Prevalent on Big Island
Community spread of the coronavirus is becoming more prevalent across the Big Island over the past two weeks, a transition from travel-related cases that were more frequent in earlier stages of the pandemic.
Travel cases tend to be easier to identify early and contact trace because quarantines and test prompting have been the norm in Hawai‘i since late March. Hawai‘i County Civil Defense has indicated in its morning reports over the last several days that community spread is now consistently linked with the majority of new COVID-19 cases identified on the Big Island, including the three new cases reported Tuesday.
“Hawai‘i Island has seen daily increases (in) positive cases over the past two weeks,” Civil Defense wrote in a release. “Most of these recent cases are not travel-related, which means the virus is being transmitted within the community.”
More than 150 total cases of coronavirus have been identified across the county since health officials began tracking the pandemic in late February. There were 20 active cases on the Big Island as of Tuesday morning and one person was hospitalized as a result of infection, according to Civil Defense statistics.
The greater the numbers, the more day-to-day and hour-to-hour fluctuation exists in virus reporting between county and state departments. The Hawai‘i Department of Health on Monday afternoon reported 149 total cases on the Big Island, with 22 of those classified as active cases. DOH will release an updated report at around noon Tuesday.
The state’s virus tracker, which maps active cases across all islands by district, can be accessed here. The tracker is updated daily in the afternoons. More specific information on case locations is not typically provided by the relevant county or state departments in regular updates.
There are no new social or economic restrictions immediately planned for the Big Island but continued community spread could eventually lead to new restrictions like those on O‘ahu, where bars and parks are closed, and Kaua‘i, where gathering sizes have been further limited.
Outdoor gatherings on the Big Island are limited to 100 people and indoor gatherings are limited to 50 people. Within these groups, the requirements to maintain physical distancing, cleanliness, and the wearing of face coverings remain in place.
An interisland travel quarantine for anyone arriving to a neighbor island remains effective until at least Aug. 31. Those who travel to O‘ahu are not currently required to quarantine, as Honolulu County remains the epicenter for COVID-19 spread across the state, and people already there are more likely to have coronavirus than those arriving from the neighbor islands.
Outside of a few exemptions that include essential work and one-night medical stays, anyone who visits O‘ahu then returns to a neighbor island would be required to quarantine on the back end of the trip.
However, those rules could grow more stringent this week. Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Monday that more restrictions must be put in place on O‘ahu to curb the spread of the virus on that island. They did not release details but noted an official declaration would follow later in the week. It’s unclear how involved neighbor islands would be with any new restrictions, though regulations on interisland travel would likely impact the entire state to at least some degree.