Hawaii’s COVID hospitalizations soar to their highest levels since January

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 4:28 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 26, 2021 at 4:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Amid an ongoing surge in new infections, overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated, COVID hospitalizations in Hawaii have risen to their highest levels since January.

As of Monday morning, 92 people with COVID were being treated at facilities across the state.

Of those patients, 89 were unvaccinated, health officials said.

“We went from about 600 active cases about three weeks ago to 2,000,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “When you see that kind of surge in cases, hospitalizations follow.”

Monday also marked the 12th day in a row Hawaii’s COVID case count has been in the triple digits.

The number of admitted COVID patients jumped more than 30% over the weekend alone. Officials said there were 68 COVID patients hospitalized on Oahu, 15 on Maui and nine on Hawaii Island.

Green added, “Twenty people are in the intensive care unit.”

Hilton Raethel, the head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, said the demographic of people getting hardest hit by the virus has changed.

“These are not individuals who are 70 or 80 with multiple underlying conditions,” he said. “These are healthy adults who are being infected and hospitalized and overwhelmingly they are unvaccinated.”

He says with most COVID restrictions lifted, hospital bed space has again become a major concern.

“We are operating without COVID at a pretty full census and we are really maxing out a lot of our capacity,” Raethel said. “The COVID patients are on top of very full hospitals, which is really stressing our system.”

Green says he’s watching the numbers closely.

“If our hospitals begin to exceed capacity, to keep people alive, of course then I will always put health and survival first,” he said.

To prevent the return of more restrictions, Green urged businesses to take an active role in getting their employees vaccinated.

“Anything you can do for your workers to incentivize them to go get vaccinated will keep you open,” he said.

Green has proposed a program that would give people who get vaccinated a $50 restaurant or grocery card. Those who brought people to vaccination sites would also be compensated.

“If we were to do 140,000 individuals it would cost $14 million,” Green said.

“We’ll save hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue from people not being shut down from not having opportunities, from not having wages, for people being on unemployment.”

If hospital capacity gets stretched too thin, officials say elective surgeries could be one of the first things to be postponed.

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