Governor urges vigilance, precautions amid alarming surge in COVID infections – Hawaii News Now

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Gov. David Ige urged residents to take precautions and to get vaccinated or a booster shot amid an “alarming” surge in new COVID cases in Hawaii that appears to be driven at least in part by the highly transmissible Omicron mutation.

But Ige stopped short of instituting any new restrictions, saying that hospitalizations are still low.

Instead, he said that the state and counties are continuing to monitor the situation.

There were 797 new COVID cases reported statewide Friday, the highest single-day case count in the islands since Sept. 11. Meanwhile, there were two additional COVID fatalities reported.

“We are seeing an alarming increase in the number of cases,” said Ige, at a news conference on Friday. “It’s time to reassess your plans so you can celebrate with your loved ones this holiday season.”

Dr. Libby Char, state Health Department director, said that new cases were a mix of Omicron and Delta cases. Both are more contagious than the original virus, but Omicron can be transmitted more easily.

Char said the state has confirmed 31 cases of Omicron so far. Another 17 cases are suspicious.

“We need to keep our cases down and celebrate the holidays responsibly,” said Char, adding that residents should consider stick to smaller gatherings and gatherings held outdoors.

The 14-day average for new cases in Hawaii has soared nearly 200% ― to 297.

Meanwhile, the positivity rate is up to 4.2% for the state and 5.4% on Oahu.

The new cases reported Friday bring the statewide total for infections since the pandemic began to 91,067. The state said the infections Friday included no backlogged cases.

With two additional fatalities, the state’s death toll now stands at 1,067.

Over the last 14 days, the state says there have been 2,842 cases detected.

Of the new infections reported Friday:

  • 712 were on Oahu
  • 29 were on Hawaii Island
  • 23 were on Maui
  • 14 were on Kauai

There were also 19 people diagnosed out of state.

Hawaii has been seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, mirroring what’s happening on the mainland and around the world.

While COVID cases in Hawaii have jumped 120% since Thanksgiving, the latest uptick hasn’t resulted an increase in hospitalizations. But state leaders are still bracing for a spike in new admissions soon.

With the Omicron variant spreading throughout the community, health experts are urging people to get vaccinated if they haven’t done so, and to get the booster shot if they’ve already had the initial two doses.

The state is no longer issuing details daily on where COVID deaths occurred, their age ranges, and whether those who died had underlying conditions.

Some 73.3% of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated, while 78.6% have received at least one dose.

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This story will be updated.

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