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Despite Hawaii’s high vaccination rate, daily COVID case counts aren’t dropping as expected

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 5:09 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s vaccination campaign continues to outperform other states, but the number of people being diagnosed with the virus isn’t on the decline.

And that’s causing concern for public health officials.

Statewide, there were 83 new COVID infections reported Monday. On average, the daily case count hasn’t dipped much below that since March.

Meanwhile, some 46% of Hawaii’s population is now fully vaccinated against the virus.

“We would have expected the infection rate to have dropped off fairly significantly given the number of vaccinations that have occurred,” said Healthcare Association of Hawaii CEO Hilton Raethel.

“But it’s basically been stable for the last couple of months. And that’s not a good sign.”

Statewide, a total of 44 people are currently hospitalized with the virus.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said those being hospitalized with COVID are now trending younger.

“So people in their 50s and 60s rather than those in their 70s and 80s,” he said.

While fewer people are dying, COVID continues to spread in pockets of the community, especially among those who haven’t gotten the shots.

As restrictions become more relaxed, officials say it’s now more important than ever to get vaccinated.

Green said, “It’s tougher and tougher to convince people to wear masks.”

Demand for the shot has also started to drop.

Raethel says the most significant decline has happened on Kauai and the Kona side of the Big Island.

He added that the state Department of Health actually turned down between 3,000 and 4,000 doses of its Moderna shipment last week.

“It was the first time that we had not accepted every dose of the COVID vaccine that was available to the state,” Raethel said.

Officials confirm a variety of incentives are coming in the weeks ahead in an effort to entice people who are holding out to get their shots.

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