HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hospitals in the islands could soon be on the verge of running out of intensive care space as COVID-19 infections surge on Oahu, public health officials warn.
In an interview Wednesday with Hawaii News Now, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said that if Hawaii can’t decrease the number of new COVID-19 cases, the state is projected to run out of intensive care beds by the end of the month.
Overall, only about 50% of the state’s 244 intensive care beds are currently in use.
However, some of Oahu’s larger hospitals are already seeing a surge in COVID-19 patients.
Green confirms one Honolulu hospital’s ICU was at capacity on Tuesday. He added another Honolulu hospital is working to create a second ICU unit in preparation for what’s to come.
“This is a very sobering statement to make,” he said. “If we continue with this trend all month seeing 150, 170 cases a day we will reach the point where we will fill up by the end of the month.”
On Wednesday, there were 173 new COVID-19 cases on Oahu ― a record high for the island.
Right now, there are 1,334 active cases in the islands. And the vast majority of those are on Oahu.
Green says on average 10% of patients end up in the hospital. If that number holds true, the state’s ICUs could fill up fast.
On Wednesday afternoon, Green attended an emergency meeting aimed at setting into motion things that need to be done immediately to prepare.
“We do have capacity to expand by about 30%,” he said. “We can take surgical rooms. We can obviously stop doing elective procedures. We can turn surgery centers and surgical rooms into intensive care space. We’ve already talked about that expansion if need be.”
If the numbers continue to climb, Green says the state will ask the federal government to help with the creation of another facility for patients who need treatment.
He added that one of the only bright spots is what’s happening on the neighbor islands.
“The rate of COVID remains extremely low there,” he said.