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Experts: COVID death rate for unvaccinated Hawaii residents is 20 times higher

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 5:37 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 1, 2021 at 6:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As churches around Oahu held All Saints’ Day memorials Monday for the 916 Hawaii residents who have died of COVID so far, healthcare experts said many of the most recent deaths could have been prevented.

More than 300 people in the islands died in September and October due to the surge of the Delta variant ― and most of those people were unvaccinated.

“The latest information we have is there is a 20 times higher chance of dying from COVID if you’re unvaccinated than if you’re vaccinated,” said Hilton Raethel, CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

Raethel said that vaccinated people represent 10 to 12% of all COVID hospitalizations in the state. But he said they have much more positive outcomes.

“They may be in the hospital for four or five days with a low level of care. They get discharged and they’re doing fine,” he said.

“People who are unvaccinated are generally in for 10 to 14 days if not longer. They’re at a much higher level of care ― they’re in the ICU.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the message is simple: “Please, please, please get vaccinated,” he said.

“A lot of young people who are unvaccinated in their 30s or 40s ended up on a ventilator and passed away,” Green said.

Green said most of those who died recently were likely infected three to four weeks ago during the height of the delta variant surge.

He said as case counts and hospitalization continue to drop so will deaths.

The bells at Central Union Church tolled more than 900 times Monday, a remembrance of all of...
The bells at Central Union Church tolled more than 900 times Monday, a remembrance of all of the people in Hawaii who died from COVID in the past year and a half.(Hawaii News Now)

Meanwhile, several churches partnered Monday for a memorial for COVID victims at Central Union Church. At noon, the church’s bells tolled more than 900 times.

“We hope we had turned it ... but there’s still, there’s a lot of loss in our community. A lot still to be dealt with,” said Pastor David Baumgart Turner, of the Church of the Crossroads.

“Yet another, and another and another,” the pastor said, as he passed the rows of chairs placed on the church’s lawn, representing each of the people who died.

“The last two days ― the 31st and 30th ― we’ve lost 10 people each day. Those are hard numbers.”

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