State investigates large COVID-19 cluster tied to Kalihi funeral

Updated: Jul. 28, 2020 at 5:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - State Health Department officials are investigating a new COVID-19 cluster that’s linked to a series of funeral events in Kalihi.

Officials have identified at least 36 cases so far.

“In this case, it’s largely community spread and one of the larger clusters we’ve investigated. I’m almost sure we haven’t seen the end of this one either,” said state Health Director Bruce Anderson.

With the recent surge in cases, state officials are expecting more hospitalizations in the weeks ahead. A total of 47 people are in hospitals across Hawaii, according to the state.

"I heard that it's more than two dozen individuals that are over at Queen's hospital that are in the hospital now in the last just like 72 hours," said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. "As many as 6, I believe, needed ventilation, so that's a pretty serious surge of need."

Dr. Rick Bruno, vice president of Patient Care for The Queen's Health Systems, said in a statement: "We continue to provide high quality care to all patients, and currently have the necessary capacity to care for COVID patients in a safe environment."

State health officials report that about 10% of all COVID-19 cases that are detected end up in the hospital. Green said the average hospital stay is 10.5 days.

"But when you get people on ventilators, it becomes a 50/50 probability of dying, so this is a real surge," he said. "I think that the next two weeks, we're going to see higher hospital numbers."

State leaders stressed Hawaii hospitals have enough capacity for now.

“We’ve been lucky to keep the numbers down to a point where we haven’t seen surges in cases that have overwhelmed our hospital system, but that’s certainly something we want to prevent going forward,” Anderson said.

“With the cases that have occurred recently, we are expecting to see more people in the hospital than we have seen before.”

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