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Hawaii marks grim milestone in pandemic as COVID death toll tops 1,000

Published: Nov. 20, 2021 at 6:18 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2021 at 9:22 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The pandemic in Hawaii hit a grim milestone Saturday as the statewide death toll topped 1,000.

“It still breaks our hearts when we see that 1,000 of our citizens have passed away from COVID,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

But Green said many more people would have died if vaccines weren’t developed and measures such as the mask mandate and mandatory quarantine for out of state travelers weren’t implemented.

In early 2020, Green said, state emergency officials came up with a worst-case forecast for COVID deaths in Hawaii — when the vaccine and the safety measures didn’t exist.

“In the first days of the pandemic, we were told there would be as many as 4,400 fatalities in the first year and the same number in the second year. That would have been almost 9,000 fatalities,” he said.

“But because people got vaccinated our mortality rate is the second lowest in the country. We’re actually the most vaccinated state in America.”

The death rate is expected to drop even more after the FDA and the CDC approved the booster shot for all adults.

During a drive-thru vaccination clinic at Kapolei High School held by Hawaii Pacific Health on Saturday, officials say the demand for booster shots was robust.

“I think a lot of people are just eager to get it, eager to further protect their families and their loved ones,” said Shanyn Chung, human resources manager for Hawaii Pacific Health.

Green said about 10% of the people who have already gotten their first two shots have gotten the booster shot. He expects many more to do so in the next few days.

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