The Maui News
About 10 percent of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 involve people who had a prior infection, according to the state Department of Health.
The department is updating its data dashboard to include reinfections, which it says have been growing over time.
“The data on reinfections underscores what we have been saying; that limited immunity from previous infection only lasts so long,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said in a news release Wednesday. “Regardless of whether a person has had COVID-19 in the past, they should stay up to date on their vaccinations and boosters to get increased protection from severe illness and hospitalization.”
Until now the total COVID-19 case count displayed on the dashboard represented the number of unique individuals whose positive tests had been reported to DOH. A person who tested positive multiple times was counted once.
The updated total case count published on the data dashboard Wednesday includes every confirmed positive reported to DOH since the first reinfection was recorded in September 2020, as long as the second case happened at least 90 days after the first. Multiple positive tests within a 90-day period are counted only once.
“Reinfections were rare early in the pandemic,” Kemble said. “Reinfection statistics were relatively insignificant. However, the percentage of COVID-19 cases involving people who have had prior infection has increased over time. Reinfections now account for about 10 percent of all new COVID-19 cases in Hawaii.”
There have been 10,995 reinfections dating back to September 2020 when the first reinfection was recorded, according to DOH. Adding these reinfections to the 344,964 cases involving unique individuals brings the total case count to 355,959.
The 10,995 reinfections represent 3.09 percent of the total cases.
Going forward, reinfections will be counted in the seven-day average daily case count. This will result in higher average daily case counts than under the previous data reporting method, DOH said.
Prior to the change, the weekly reported data had been showing a downward trend in cases. Last week, Maui County reported 121 new cases. This week with the change, it had 1,847 new cases. However, there was very little change in the county’s seven-day average of new daily cases, which went from 17 last week to 18 this week.
Most places have long ago lifted restrictions related to the pandemic as cases have continued at a lower pace and health officials continue to encourage vaccination and boosters.
For more information about reinfections and other data, visit health.hawaii.gov/coronavirusdisease2019/what-you-should-know/covid-19-data-reports/.