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Hawaii ends 2021 with record surge of COVID-19 cases

December 31, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii has reported another day of near-record coronavirus cases, ending the year with a surging infection rate and hospitals on edge.

Health officials said there were 3,290 new cases on Friday. The state more than doubled a previous delta variant record Thursday after reporting nearly 3,500 new cases.

The state of about 1.5 million people recorded an additional four deaths Friday. Hawaii has reported nearly 1,100 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The seven-day average test positivity rate for the state was more than 15%. On Oahu, the state’s most populous island where the majority of cases are being detected, the average positivity rate was over 17%.

Hawaii hospital officials have said they are already nearly full with non-coronavirus patients and worry about staffing shortages affecting their ability to care for a possible wave of new COVID-19 patients in early 2022.

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State officials and island mayors did not add any new restrictions ahead of the New Year holiday. Most COVID rules were dropped in early December just before the omicron variant arrived. The University of Hawaii said it would hold most classes online when the semester begins in January.

More than 700,000 travelers have arrived in Hawaii in December, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Hawaii requires travelers to be vaccinated or provide a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours before arrival, or face quarantine. The U.S. now requires international travelers to test within 24 hours of their trip, regardless of nationality or vaccination status.

Statewide there have been nearly 110,000 confirmed coronavirus cases throughout the pandemic. There were more than 20,000 active COVID-19 infections in Hawaii on New Year’s Eve.