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COVID-19 cases across the state grow to 175

Drive-thru testing resumes at War Memorial today

State Department of Health medical lab technician Terilyn Lucero tests a sample for respiratory agents at the department’s laboratory in Pearl City on March 3. Officials said at the time that they are capable of testing 250 samples for the new coronavirus each week. AP photo

State health officials updated Hawaii’s total to 175 novel coronavirus cases as of noon Sunday — with four new Maui cases that move the county from 16 to 20.

The state’s 24 new cases include 11 on Oahu, two on Hawaii island and one on Kauai; the county of diagnosis or residency is pending in six cases.

All of the new cases were adults, and all but one — a patient on Hawaii island — were residents of the state, according to the Department of Health. None of the new cases have required hospitalization.

Of the 175 total cases in Hawaii, 7 percent have required hospitalization and more than 80 percent were residents returning from other areas. There have been no deaths.

Most of the cases have been residents (145), while another 20 have been from out of state and the residency of 10 cases is still unknown.

“We need to continue practicing social distancing because it is a way to lower the curve of COVID-19 in Hawaii,” Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson said in a news release Sunday. “Everyone needs to take the measures implemented seriously and abide by those requirements.”

On Saturday, Hawaii saw its largest single-day spike yet with 29 new cases, including one minor. Of the cases reported Saturday, 19 were on Oahu, six on Kauai, three on Hawaii island and one case with a pending location. Maui County had no new cases Saturday.

The number of cases has continued to grow by greater margins as the state and private labs expand testing. As of Sunday, private labs had produced more than 7,500 results, of which 159 have been positive for COVID-19. Before private labs were able to test for the virus, the state lab had identified 13 cases.

Sentinel surveillance testing of people with respiratory symptoms who were negative for the flu is still ongoing.

Today, drive-thru testing will resume at the War Memorial Gym parking lot at 700 Halia Nakoa St., Wailuku. Testing is by appointment only and is geared toward people with respiratory symptoms and a history of contact with other ill individuals.

Callers will be screened to see if they are eligible and will be given further instructions. To make an appointment, call (808) 270-7228. If the line is busy, do not leave a voicemail — call alternate numbers: (808) 500-8118; (808) 500-8117; and (808) 500-8120.

Last week, a total of 162 samples were taken over the course of two days at the drive-thru site. Test results are expected this week.

Monday’s drive-thru testing, which will have 100 test kits, is a collaboration between the Hawaii Department of Health Maui District Health Office, the County of Maui, Kaiser Clinics, Maui Memorial Medical Center and Clinical Labs of Hawaii.

The goal of the drive-thru testing is to help prevent overloading Maui Memorial and allow it to focus on people with severe symptoms. Testing may also help to identify and ultimately decrease clusters of disease within the community.

Over the weekend, the state DOH also issued a warning about the use of antimalarial drugs for COVID-19, saying they cam be hazardous and are not approved for use.

“Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause severe cardiac toxicity, and in high doses over a long duration, can cause retinal damage and lead to permanent blindness,” Dr. Alvin Bronstein, DOH Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch chief, said in a release. “Individuals using these medications without physician supervision run serious risks of side effects and potential overdoses. Other medications are being touted, but nothing has been proven to be effective and may even do more harm than good.”

Hydroxychloroquine is used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus. Chloroquine has been demonstrated to be effective for malaria, lupus and chronic rheumatoid arthritis, but has significant side effects, including gastrointestinal distress and potential permanent vision damage, the DOH said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no specific medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19 and a vaccine is not yet available.

If you or someone you know has taken chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine and are experiencing adverse reactions, call 911, the Hawai’i Regional Poison Center at (800) 222-1222 or seek immediate medical care, the DOH said.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com. Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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