With major ICUs nearing capacity, patients are being moved and reinforcements sought

Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 at 5:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Hawaii continues to see daily increases in new COVID-19 cases in the triple digits, four of Oahu’s major intensive care units are now nearing capacity.

Queen’s Medical Center and Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center are experiencing the largest surge.

Late Wednesday, every hospital on the island began working together to redistribute patients, particularly those battling COVID-19, in an effort to alleviate some of the stress on the larger hospitals.

But healthcare experts say moving patients around is likely just a temporary fix.

With the number of active cases at more than 2,550, plans are in the works to call in reinforcements from the mainland. Facilities are hoping to get doctors and nurses who can staff new beds that are being brought online at hospitals across Oahu.

Outbreaks of the coronavirus at the Oahu Community Correctional Center and an Iwilei homeless shelter sent Hawaii’s daily case count soaring Thursday, accounting for nearly a quarter of Thursday’s 355 new infections.

On Thursday morning, dozens of people lined up outside the Institute for Human Services men’s shelter for testing.

State health officials confirm the facility is now being used to quarantine the sick and those who have been exposed after at least 20 residents contracted the virus.

Meanwhile, the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Oahu has the island on the verge of a healthcare crisis.

While hospitals have been working for months to create more bed space, the head of the Hawaii Healthcare Association warns there will likely be a shortage of providers to staff them — especially nurses.

“What we believe we will need potentially in about two weeks is additional staff and we will have to bring them in from the mainland and that’s what we’re working on right now,” Hilton Raethel said.

Data shows the surge of new cases has grown exponentially over the past two weeks.

“We were sitting at 2,197 cases on August 1,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “And here we are at about 4,300 cases. We’ve doubled in the last 12 days.”

Green said statistically 10% of people who catch the virus end up in the hospital.

“If we do have to go beyond the hospital capacity, that’s when you get military support and federal aid. And that’s a discussion that’s going on every single day,” he said.

In a news conference Thursday afternoon, Gov. David Ige said if the restrictions that are currently in place don’t lead to a dramatic drop in the numbers soon, a complete lockdown could be imminent.

“If things do not get better we will have no choice but to look at more restrictions this could include going back to the stay at home orders,” Ige said.

The governor went on to say the increase in cases could lead to yet another delay of the state’s transpacific pre-travel testing program.

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