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Hawaii reports highest number of new COVID cases in pandemic

July 31, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii officials announced 622 new cases of coronavirus Friday, the highest number of confirmed infections since the start of the pandemic.

The total included cases from lab reporting delays from the past three days, officials said, but the number is still a significant spike for the state of about 1.4 million people.

The seven-day positivity rate is now 5.1%. Officials said the average daily case count from the past three days is now over 300.

Previously, the record high total for confirmed cases in a single day was 355 set in August 2020.

Despite the delays in reporting that increased Friday’s count, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said the latest total “would be higher than the 355 peak that we saw in last year’s rapid escalation of the cases.”

Officials said the surge is associated with the highly contagious delta variant and encouraged people to get vaccinated.

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“The pandemic is not over, and the best way forward is for people to get vaccinated,” Ige said.

Just over 60% of Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated.

Hawaii Department of Health Director Libby Char said about 25% of the new infections are among children, but officials still plan to have kids return to school next week.

“There is risk involved in everything. But I think we also have to be cognizant that there is a cost to not having children in school and having them fall further behind in learning and the continued social isolation,” Char said.

Hawaii has had among the lowest COVID-19 infection and death rates in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. The state never lifted its public indoor mask mandate, and people flying into the islands must either be fully vaccinated or get a negative COVID-19 test before travel.