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Green warns ‘life-preserving restrictions’ looming as city deploys mortuary trailer to morgue

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 4:06 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - COVID hospitalizations Thursday hit a new all-time high for the fourth time this week, with 427 patients sick with the virus being treated in facilities across the state.

Health officials said 87% of them are unvaccinated.

With no signs of Hawaii’s COVID surge slowing, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Thursday he plans to call for “life-preserving restrictions” if the number of people hospitalized with COVID reaches 500.

“If the numbers don’t plateau, the governor will have to order additional restrictions,” Green said, adding, “probably a serious lockdown.”

Green’s comments follow his recent discussions with hospital leaders, who made it clear that together they can handle no more than 710 COVID patients.

“Getting to 700 or 710 would take a Herculean effort of moving patients around, getting extra staff in place. But we could provide that much care,” Green told Hawaii News Now. “That’s before we would see such a crisis that we would see loss of life over and above just the tragedy of COVID.”

Hawaii has seen nearly 16,000 COVID cases this month alone. That means some 27% of the total number of COVID infections in the islands since the start of the pandemic have happened since Aug. 1.

As hospitalizations soar, some hospitals are already dealing with a shortage of medical equipment used to treat coronavirus patients.

Officials at Kaiser Permanente say they’re waiting on a shipment from the mainland that includes 12 BiPAP machines, which are used to provide oxygen to people in need of respiratory care.

The hospital also has dozens more respiratory humidifiers, high-flow oxygen devices and vital sign monitors on order. Officials say the equipment is expected to arrive this weekend.

Meanwhile, a mortuary trailer is now sitting outside the Honolulu Medical Examiner’s office.

An official said the trailer was placed in its fenced-in parking lot Tuesday and is now being used to increase the morgue’s capacity.

The Honolulu Fire Department purchased three mortuary trailers last year. It’s the first time one of them has been deployed.

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