Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023|
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COVID-19 cases incrementally declined for the fourth consecutive week throughout both the state and Hawaii County.
But with the prevalence of at-home testing options, the state Department of Health warned cases numbers may be higher than reported.
According to DOH data released Wednesday, there were 5,362 new COVID cases reported statewide over the past seven days, 120 less than the week prior. This is a much smaller decline than the drop of more than 1,000 cases from the week prior.
For Hawaii County, there were 578 new cases over the last seven days, a drop in just one case from the week before.
The Department of Health also addressed concerns related to two new omicron subvariants: BA.4 and BA.5.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BA.4 and BA.5 are now responsible for a majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States.
While official case counts of BA.4 and BA.5 in Hawaii remain low, at just 24 combined cases throughout the state, the DOH is keeping an eye on its spread.
“The Department of Health is absolutely monitoring the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 in Hawaii,” said DOH spokesman Brooks Baehr, adding the new variants have jumped from five cases listed in the DOH’s Variant Report on June 8, up to 24 cases reported in its June 22.
“If the percentage of BA.4 and BA.5 cases in Hawaii continues to increase similar to the way the percentage of other variants and subvariants increased in Hawaii, we can expect BA.4 and BA.5 to gain a greater foothold in the islands in the coming weeks,” he said.
Baehr also addressed the decrease in case numbers, indicating at-home tests and asymptomatic cases may be responsible for the decline.
“We know there are many more cases in the community than we are able to report,” he said. “(Director of Health Dr. Libby Char) has been quoted as saying the actual number of cases in the community may be five, six or seven times the number of confirmed cases.”
New deaths declined by just one person this week, from 16 down to 15 during the last 7-day period. No new deaths were reported for Hawaii County this week.
The new statewide active case count for the past 14-day period also dropped from 11,536 down to 10,021.
This week’s data reported a drop in the state’s average test positivity rate as well, from 17.1% down to 16.5% this week.
The seven-day average case counts for Hawaii County declined from 92 down to 77 this week. The statewide seven-day average dropped from 832 down to 578.
For Hilo’s 96720 ZIP code, there have been 324 new cases reported over the last 14-day period, a drop of 96 cases reported the week before.
A majority of new cases reported over the past seven days have occurred in the 45 to 64 age group, while trends continue downward for all age groups throughout the state.
The death toll for the state was reported by the DOH at 1,504 individuals. Hawaii County’s death toll remains at 194.
There are currently 34 COVID hospitalizations throughout Hawaii County and 207 throughout the state. Two individuals remain in the ICU with COVID-19 in Hawaii County.
The DOH encouraged individuals to enjoy a safe Fourth of July celebration, advocating for gatherings to be held outdoors and to wear masks when inside with people from outside your household bubble.
“Vaccinations are now available to everyone six-months of age and older,” added Baehr. “Parents should plan ahead for the coming school year by getting their children vaccinated now.”
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