The highly transmissible Delta variant is spreading across Hawaii and coronavirus cases continue to rise along with the COVID-19 death toll.
On Thursday, the state health department reported four new coronavirus-related deaths and 1,068 new infections across the country, bringing the state’s total to 606 deaths and 65,025 cases since the pandemic began.
The case count for the day includes some cases that were not reported on Wednesday due to an interruption in the electronic laboratory reporting system on Monday.
Two of the deaths occurred in Oahu, one is a case in Maui and one is on the island of Hawaii.
According to the DOH, the deceased include people aged 30 to 50, 60 and 70 years. All were hospitalized with underlying illnesses.
Delta, which was first spotted in Hawaii in June, now accounts for nearly all coronavirus cases in the state, according to a new variant report released this week. Not only is the Delta variant far more contagious than previous strains, officials said, but it can also cause more than twice as many infections.
On Thursday, the DOH also released a cluster report showing that all four major counties are investigating a record high of 70 clusters with 1,374 cases, with the lion’s share occurring in Oahu and Maui.
“These reports reinforce what we know about the alarming increase in cases across Hawaii,” said Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char in a press release. “Delta is different – it is twice as transferable as other variants. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths, including the Delta variant. It is critical that Hawaiian residents take precautions to halt the rapid spread of COVID-19 and maintain health capacities. “
The cluster report focused on the prevalence of COVID-19 outbreaks in places where hospitality workers are involved, including a restaurant chain, a delivery by an infected person, and a gathering at a karaoke bar.
In July and August, health officials examined two clusters of 40 coronavirus cases at a large chain of restaurants on Oahu – one in a tourist area and the other in a community with low vaccination rates.
In one of the 29 exposed employees, 24 tested positive for COVID-19.
On the other hand, 12 of 24 exposed employees tested positive. Most employees were unvaccinated, but eight of the employees who tested positive were fully vaccinated. Another four cases were passed on to unvaccinated household members by staff.
In August, a grocer infected with COVID-19 dropped off a shipment at a restaurant on Oahu. Five out of 21 restaurant employees became infected as a result. Two of them were vaccinated or had breakthrough cases. An employee also infected a member of the household.
Officials said this restaurant has narrow work spaces with poor ventilation, which likely contributed to the spread of COVID-19.
But even fully vaccinated people should take precautions, which is the cautionary story of an outbreak among 12 vaccinated food service workers who met to sing at a karaoke bar in August.
All were fully vaccinated but wore no masks or social distancing. Seven tested positive.
“Vaccination reduces the risk of getting infected and spreading COVID-19 to others, but it doesn’t eliminate it,” officials said in the report. “Everyone should take precautions to prevent COVID-19, including masking in public places indoors.”
Starting September 13, Honolulu County’s Safe Access O’ahu Program will come into effect, requiring all employees, contractors, and volunteers of places such as restaurants, bars, gyms, and museums, and their patrons, to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 requires or a negative test.
Without a vaccination, employees would have to be tested weekly and customers would have to present a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of entering a facility.
Health officials said these guidelines would help protect the community, but employers should also encourage and encourage all employees to get vaccinated.
“High vaccination rates make workplaces and communities healthier and safer for everyone,” officials said. “Communities with high vaccination rates are helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the economic impact of COVID-19 on employers, employees and the community.”
Meanwhile, the pace of COVID-19 vaccination rates has accelerated.
On Thursday, the Department of Health reported that 63.6% of the Hawaiian population have completed their vaccinations while 71.9% received at least one dose. A total of 1,877,187 doses were administered, 7,191 more than the previous day.
For the week that ended August 27, the department reported nearly 27,900 vaccines administered, compared to about 23,100 the previous week and about 14,700 the last week of July.
However, the race for more vaccinations against COVID-19 continues as the delta weighs on state hospitals.
CORONAVIRUS CLUSTER IN THE STATE
Officials are actively investigating the following clusters in all four major counties:
>> Oahu: Officials are investigating 18 clusters with 480 cases, including two in prisons with 276 cases, five in restaurants with 74 cases, four in grocery stores with 52 cases, four in educational institutions with 35 cases, and a social meeting that resulted in 13 cases. among other.
>> County Maui: Officials are investigating 44 clusters with 461 cases, including a correctional facility with 122 cases, 10 in educational institutions with 92 cases, 12 in travel, accommodation and tourism with 90 cases, eight in restaurants with 31 cases, two among grocery stores with 24 cases, and seven in the “Other” category with 73 cases, including several in the construction industry and in the professional environment.
>> Hawaii County: Officials are only investigating one cluster in the correctional facility with 296 cases.
>> Kauai County: Officials are investigating seven clusters, including a correctional facility with 87 cases, a restaurant with 17 cases, two social gatherings with 18 cases, and a prayer cluster with three cases, and workplaces.
Source: DOH cluster report