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Four new virus cases reported on Molokai

Island’s COVID-19 count now up to 13

Health officials are investigating four new cases of COVID-19 on Molokai, with two possibly related to a recent string of travel- and family-related reports earlier this week.

“The most recent introduction was travel to Oahu and came back to Molokai, so that was the most recent, and we have two of those for sure,” Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang said during a county news conference Friday. “The other two, we’re not quite sure. . . . We don’t know if they link with the previous outbreak from the travel to the Mainland or these other two.”

After seeing only two cases throughout most of the pandemic, Molokai has now reported 11 cases in late August and early September for a total of 13.

On Friday the state Department of Health reported 167 new COVID-19 cases, including 142 on Oahu, 21 on Hawaii island and four on Molokai, bringing the statewide total to 10,459.

Oahu has now had 9,446 cases, Hawaii County 562, Maui County 367 (including 13 on Molokai and none on Lanai) and Kauai County 58. Twenty-six residents have been diagnosed out of state.

The department also reported two more deaths on Oahu, a man in his 70s with no underlying health conditions who died at home, and a woman in her 40s with underlying health conditions who also died at home. Statewide there have now been 96 deaths, including 83 on Oahu, nine in Maui County, three in Hawaii County and one out of state.

Pang said as officials investigate the recent cases, they can’t pinpoint any one particular person. In such a situation, especially in a small community like Molokai, he encouraged people to “wear the mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, make sure you’re well and make sure to wipe off and disinfect surfaces” rather than trying to guess “who’s who.”

According to Mayor Michael Victorino, 11 of Molokai’s 13 cases are currently active, putting the total at 135 active cases for Maui County.

“Last month we had the largest case load since the pandemic began, at 165 new cases,” Victorino said. “This month, we’re up to 27, so we’re doing better but we need to keep our guard up and continue practicing good habits.”

About half the ICU beds are currently occupied at Maui Memorial Medical Center, and only one is COVID-related, Victorino said. Also, less than 25 percent of ventilators are in use, none for COVID.

Pang said that they also brought about 45 new contact tracers on board.

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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