‘Someone’s parent, someone’s child’: COVID continues to hit Native Hawaiian community hard

Updated: Sep. 24, 2021 at 10:34 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly 30% of all COVID-19 cases in Hawaii since late June ― when the delta variant emerged in the islands ― have been among Native Hawaiians.

That’s according to the latest statistics from state Department of Health.

Overall, Native Hawaiians make up nearly a quarter of all infections in Hawaii since the start of the pandemic in 2020. That’s more than 12,000 infections, which is more than any other ethnicity in Hawaii.

Native Hawaiians are also at the top of the list when it comes to COVID hospitalizations, according to the state Department of Health.

Chantelle Matagi is the contact tracing lead investigator for the state Health Department.

She said that it’s been difficult to keep up with the surge in cases and get people to cooperate with contact tracing efforts.

As a member of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community, she said it’s also been tough to see how bad the situation has gotten among this population.

“What we need to keep in mind is that COVID-19 is a disease and with all diseases there are risk, and with those who are unvaccinated, you run the risk of getting sick and possibly passing away,” she said.

“And while many people say, ‘oh, it’s only 1%,’ that 1% is someone’s parent, is someone’s child. It’s a community member. Why would we not want them to be there?”

COVID Pau is a group of public and private partners who gather and provide data and storytelling to the community, including Native Hawaiians.

“We’ve seen the surge with the Delta variant and some of the consequences with that,” said Naalehu Anthony, of COVID Pau.

“We’re also seeing that there are mandates both at the county and city level, but also with some of the businesses that are saying, well, OK, you need to be vaccinated. So we believe what that’s doing is it’s opening up these opportunities for conversations both virtually but also face to face.”

COVID Pau will be holding several testing and vaccination events in the coming days:

  • Wahiawa General Hospital Saturday, Sept. 25 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Old Waimanalo Quarry Site Saturday, Sept. 25 and Oct. 16 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Waianae Mall Saturday, Sept. 25 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.