COVID-19 hospitalizations in Hawaii shoot up as new infections also rise

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 5:40 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is seeing the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 go up, in a worrisome trend public health officials say they’re watching closely.

Health officials confirmed that 40 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus across the state Thursday. Seven are in intensive care.

That’s nearly double what it was two days ago.

At last check, none of those patients are in need of a ventilator.

“It’s accelerated very significantly,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who is also a doctor.

Green says overall 10% of Hawaii’s documented COVID-19 cases have ended up in the hospital. But recently, he’s seen an uptick in the number of people admitted.

“For the first four months, we only had a total of say 100 people (who needed hospitalization). Now we have 40 in the hospital right now,” said Green.

It’s an increase that’s been anticipated as the number of new COVID-19 infections in Hawaii continues to rise. Over the past month, Hawaii has averaged 22 new cases every day.

However, Green says hospital capacity isn’t currently an issue and on Thursday, more than half of the state’s ICU beds are empty.

But the problem right now is a shortage of contact tracers, he said.

“I was contacted by several people in Kona,” said Green. “They want to know why they haven’t been traced and why they haven’t received a call when they were in the hospital.”

Meanwhile, Hawaii doctors are awaiting results of two mass testing efforts: One at a Kona Community Hospital and the other at Pearl City Nursing Home.

Kona Community Hospital is the site of the latest outbreak on Hawaii Island after three staff members tested positive for the virus.

On Thursday morning, health care workers tested more than 500 patients and workers at the facility. And that effort was just the beginning.

“We’ll follow that with repeat testing for the entire facility in one week,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich. “Anyone that was in close contact with the positives will be retested in four days.”

Miscovich is also heading up testing at Pearl City Nursing Home. As of Thursday, seven residents and three staff were infected with the virus.

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