Delta variant now accounts for 40% of all new COVID infections in Hawaii

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 2:58 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 14, 2021 at 5:38 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Health officials are monitoring a worrisome increase in new COVID infections and hospitalizations in Hawaii, saying almost all the cases are unvaccinated people.

Of particular concern: Over the past two weeks, there’s been an increase in Hawaii’s positivity rate ― or the percentage of all COVID tests that are positive. State data shows it’s up from 1.4% to 2.4%.

During that same time, the infection rate has jumped about 20%.

The impact is already being seen in hospitals. Late last month, there were just over 20 COVID patients hospitalized statewide. On Tuesday, that number stood at 52.

The state says increased travel, Fourth of July gatherings and the general loosening of restrictions are all linked to the uptick.

“I think it’s important to note the travel-related cases ― the vast majority are Hawaii residents that traveled to the mainland, returned home and bring disease with them,” said Kauai District Health Officer Janet Berreman.

Hilton Raethel, the head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, confirms 40% of all new cases are the highly contagious Delta variant.

“The Delta variant has been estimated to be 225% more transmissible than the original variant,” said Raethel. “And you think about that. The original variant created a worldwide pandemic.”

[Related coverage: New DOH report shows highly transmissible Delta variant is spreading in Hawaii]

He’s says the mutant strain is also more deadly, but the vaccine is proven to work well in preventing infections.

Meanwhile, the state’s vaccination rate is up slightly since the Independence Day holiday. Over the past week, clinicians administered about 20,000 doses.

“Twenty-thousand means we’re still about 15 weeks away from the 70% threshold,” Raethel said.

That means it would be October before all the state’s COVID restrictions are dropped ― and that’s only if those vaccination numbers hold steady.

To drive up demand, the state has said it plans to launch a new incentive campaign with cash prizes later this month.

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