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Posted on Dec 31, 2020 in COVID-19, COVID-19 News Releases, Latest Department News, Newsroom

Department of Health:

State Laboratory Guarding Against New COVID-19 Strains

The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) continues to proactively test COVID-19 specimens looking for new strains that may be significantly more contagious or differ in other ways from earlier strains. Recent variants first discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa are spreading more easily and quickly than other variants and have already spread to other countries. The B1.1.7 variant has already reached the U.S. mainland and Canada.

The Hawai‘i State Laboratories Division (SLD) began its molecular surveillance in June and to date has performed genome sequencing on nearly 700 samples of viral RNA. Neither B1.1.7 nor B.1.351, the variant discovered in South Africa, has been found in Hawai‘i, but that does not mean they are not here or will not arrive in the future.

“There is no evidence these variants cause more severe illness or increase the risk of death, but research shows they spread much faster than the COVID-19 already found in Hawai‘i,” said Dr. Libby Char, director of the Hawai’i Department of Health. “These new strains remind us how important it is to avoid large gatherings, wear masks, and practice physical distancing as we usher in the New Year.”

The DOH is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to detect new variants of COVID-19 and contain their spread. The CDC has personnel in Hawai‘i to support investigation of viral variants should they be found.

Both agencies will be available at 2 p.m. via Zoom to answer questions about the COVID-19 variants and the work being done in Hawaii to guard against variants. Reporters interested in participating should contact Brooks Baehr at [email protected].

For more information visit

188 New COVID-19 Cases and Three (3) Deaths Reported Statewide

Three (3) COVID-19 deaths were reported today bringing the new statewide death total to 288. The three women from Honolulu were hospitalized with underlying conditions between the ages of 50-79 years old. This report includes cases up until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Full data is posted on the State COVID-19 dashboard and on the DOH Disease Outbreak & Control website at noon each day at

Hawai‘i COVID-19 Counts as of 11:59 p.m. Dec. 29, 2020

Island of Diagnosis New Cases Reported since


(including new cases)

O‘ahu 135 17,908
Hawai‘i 14 1,887
Maui 26 958
Kaua‘i 0 145
Moloka‘i 0 22
Lānaʻi 0 106
HI residents diagnosed outside of HI 13 371
Total Cases 188 21,397++
Deaths    3 288

99 Hospitalizations as of 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 30, 2020 – Hawai‘i-3, Maui-7, O‘ahu-88, Kaua’i‘-1

++As a result of updated information, one case from Maui was recategorized to out-of-state.

Department of Public Safety

Inmate and Staff Testing Continues

The Halawa Correctional Facility (HCF) reported 62 more inmate test results as part of surge testing efforts. Of that total, 37 were positive and 25 were negative. An additional 13 inmates have recovered, increasing the total recoveries to 239. There are seven (7) inmates hospitalized. There were also three (3) more staff cleared to return to work. Surge testing, with the assistance of DOH, the Hawai‘i National Guard and Project Vision Hawai‘i, will continue at HCF until there are no new positive cases at the facility. The Oʻahu Community Correctional Center reports one (1) new positive staff case. For more information on PSD’s planning and response efforts to COVID-19:

Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority:

12,501 Passengers Arrived on Wednesday

Yesterday, a total of 12,501 people arrived in Hawai‘i from out of state. A total of 6,091 people indicated they came to Hawai‘i for vacation. There were also 2,611 returning residents. The trans-Pacific passenger arrival data is derived from data provided by the Safe Travels digital system.

To view more:

Helpful Resources

Trusted Testing and Travel Partners:

The state of Hawai‘i only accepts Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) lab test results from Trusted Testing and Travel Partners. For the full list of domestic trans-Pacific, inter-county, international and airline partners or information on how to become a Trusted Testing Partner, go to:

Safe Travels Hawai‘i Program:
Program overview:


Email: [email protected]

Call Center Number: 1-800-GO-HAWAII

COVID-19 Vaccine Status in Hawai‘i and FAQs:

COVID-19 Expanded Dashboard (Tables, Charts, and Visualizations):

Safe Travels Digital Platform:

Trans-Pacific Passenger Arrivals Statistics: 

Kaua‘i County:
Kaua‘i COVID-19 webpage:
To report violators: 

Rest, Test, Enjoy! Voluntary visitor post-travel test: 

Resident post-travel test:

Maui County:
Maui County travel and COVID-19 information:

To report violators: (808) 244-6400 or [email protected]

Hawai‘i County:
Hawai‘i County COVID-19 webpage:

Critical infrastructure and medical travel request: 
To report violators: 808-935-3311

City & County of Honolulu:
Honolulu COVID-19 webpage:

COVID-19 Vaccine Information:

Interisland passengers arriving on O‘ahu are not subject to the mandatory quarantine.
To report violators: 808-723-3900 or [email protected]

Media Contact:

Hawai‘i COVID-19 Joint Information Center

(808) 636-8194 

[email protected]