Amid rise in COVID patients, Maui’s main hospital requires vaccinations for visitors

As of Tuesday, there were 14 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, three of which were in the ICU.
Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 6:57 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 27, 2021 at 7:16 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a recent rise in COVID-19 patients at Maui’s main hospital, the facility is now requiring all visitors to be vaccinated.

The change at Maui Memorial Medical Center also comes as county health officials said they are struggling to get more residents vaccinated.

“We’re having this increase in prevalence because of so many people not being vaccinated and the new Delta variant,” said Michael Rembis, MMMC CEO.

Hospital officials said about two weeks ago, there were just two COVID positive patients — now, they’ve seen double digits for at least 10 days.

Currently, there are 14 patients hospitalized with the virus and three of them are in the Intensive Care Unit.

“We’ve been watching the prevalence of the disease increase throughout the state and on Maui and we thought it was a prudent step to take to protect our hospital, our patients and our employees to require vaccination before visitation,” Rembis said.

Hospital officials said they are unsure how many of its COVID positive patients are vaccinated and would not say how many staff members are COVID positive. However, MMMC said 88% of its staff is vaccinated.

Furthermore, Maui has the lowest vaccination rate in the state at just 54%.

“We don’t have herd immunity and with the variant so aggressive, we kind of have to face this issue here,” said Maui District health officer, Dr. Lorrin Pang.

The state Department of Public Safety also reported Tuesday four staff members at Maui Community Correctional Center are infected with the disease.

With the rise in cases and hospitalizations, some health officials fear this could trigger a reinstatement of COVID restrictions.

“Maui is a mirror of what’s happening throughout the state and the country, so we are going to see more restrictions probably go back to where we were before,” Rembis said.

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