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State urges caution amid 3 recent COVID-19 Hawaii deaths, spike in new cases

A medical worker places a swab in a vial while testing for COVID-19. AP photo

State health officials this morning are renewing calls for safe practices amid three more COVID-19 deaths of Hawaii residents, 86 new cases since Friday and 23 new cases today.

The news comes on the heels of the state’s highest single day of cases at 44 Saturday, with health officials pointing to community spread as reason behind surges over the last three weeks.

Recent deaths released this morning by state health officials include a Kauai resident who died in Arizona on an unreported date after months of receiving treatment for underlying medical conditions; an Oahu female July 12 who had previously been a resident of a care home; and an elderly Oahu man July 7 with underlying health conditions.

Total fatalities are now at 22 for the state.

“We all extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of these three people,” said state Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson in a state news release. “The best tribute to their lives and to the lives of all 22 people who’ve lost the fight against coronavirus, is getting everyone in Hawai’i to take personal responsibility for their own health and the health of everyone around them.”

The state tallied 23 new cases today, including 19 on Oahu, one on Hawaii island, one in Maui County and two residents diagnosed out of state.

Most of the 86 additional cases recorded since Friday are in previous clusters associated with “community-spread,” health officials said in the release. For example, a total of 44 cases are associated with a training activity at Hawaiian Airlines, in which a person infected during these meetings, is linked to a cluster of 20 cases involving two Oahu gyms.

“This clearly shows how easily and quickly this virus can spread from person-to-person and from place-to-place when people are not practicing physical distancing, not wearing masks, not staying home when sick, and possibly not washing their hands frequently and thoroughly,” state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said in the release.

Health experts are urging people to maintain safe practices and encourage others to do so to prevent the continuation of a spike in cases.

Saturday had the greatest single day number of reported cases at 42 since DOH began tracking cases Feb. 28.

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