“When you see the full extent of the destruction of Lahaina… it will shock you,” Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said after walking through the town.
The death toll was certain to keep increasing as search teams locate more bodies in the rubble.
The death toll includes up to 8,000 koalas, which were already vulnerable to extinction.
Officials have attributed at least 21 deaths to the powerful storm. But past hurricanes, including Katrina and Maria, offer lessons about early fatality counts.
Public health experts agree that official COVID-19 death tolls are undercounts, but there is disagreement over how high the actual tolls are.
State health officials said the toll could rise as they verify more deaths related to when Texas' power grid failed amid the frigid weather.
“Even simple, commonsense public health measures took on a political connotation,” lamented the nation's top infectious diseases expert.
“We know it induces identical immune response.” U.S. vaccine chief Moncef Slaoui said officials may half the dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 shot to speed up vaccinations.
2020 has been the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths expected to surpass 3 million for the first time.
The United States is on track to surpass 300,000 deaths from the coronavirus by the end of the year.