Hawaii’s health care system showing signs of strain as COVID cases continue to soar

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 4:21 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The rapid spread of the delta variant has driven up hospitalization in Hawaii in recent weeks, and there’s growing concern about its impact on Hawaii’s overall health system.

Statewide, there are about 150 hospitalized COVID patients.

But as more unvaccinated residents get infected, that number could increase to about 200 over the next several weeks.

“It speaks to the rapid spread of the delta variant. We’ve got to stop it now,” said Dr. Jill Hoggard Green, CEO of the Queen’s Health Systems.

Healthcare executives on Oahu said they’re better prepared for an increase in patients.

They pointed to the high statewide vaccination rate and to the improved treatment plans for sick patients. They added that most of the people getting sick today are younger, unvaccinated residents who recover faster.

“The likelihood of us going back to a complete lockdown ... is very low or not possible at all,” said Ray Vara, CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health.

But mayors on Maui and the Big Island worry that their hospitals will soon be overrun.

And with the public schools returning for in-person classes Tuesday, both Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth and Mayor Mike Victorino of Maui have asked for a delay.

But Gov. David Ige rejected the requests.

“You have to remember that Hawaii Island prior to the pandemic ... already had a shortage and that shortage of doctors has grown even more,” said Roth.

“We have 25 or 24 ICU (intensive care unit) beds on our island and I believe those ICU bed spaces are almost fully taken.”

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