The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has elevated Kauai County’s COVID-19 risk level from yellow to red, indicating the highest level of community risk.
The state Department of Health confirmed the shift in a Friday afternoon post on social media.
For high-risk communities, the CDC recommends residents wear a mask indoors in public, stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, get tested if symptoms arise and take additional precautions if at high risk for severe illness.
The CDC relies on three key metrics to determine COVID-19 community levels: new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population over seven days; the percentage of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population over seven days.
New admissions and inpatient beds occupied show the potential for strain on the health system, while data on recent cases acts as an early warning for potential for increases in health-system strain in the event of a surge.
Kauai’s limited number of facilities puts it at higher risk of system overload should cases continue to rise.
As of the most recent weekly update, Kauai recorded 391 new cases of COVID-19 over seven days, an uptick of 92% over a two-week period, and a test-positivity rate of 20.3%, the highest of any county in the state.
Michael Tsai covers local and state politics for Spectrum News Hawaii.