COVID hospitalizations tick up, but Omicron surge proves different from Delta
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hospitalizations are rising again and are expected to peak in late January, but the Omicron surge is showing a different story from Delta.
A total of 175 people were in Hawaii’s hospitals Sunday due to COVID.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said medical experts forecast that to peak at around 350 by Jan. 25. That’s below the Sept. 3 record of 448 when Hawaii’s hospitals were at risk of being overrun.
“We’re heading toward the 300 range for in the hospital rather than 500. And that we can handle,” said Green.
However, latest forecasts by the Hawaii Pandemic Applied Modeling Working Group predict it to peak at more than 525 in the best case and roughly 1,700 in the mid case near the end of the month.
The record 448 hospitalizations came when there were 11,500 active cases, said Green. With the more contagious Omicron variant, the number of actives cases has more than doubled to 25,236 but the amount of people requiring hospitalization is less than half the peak levels — or 175.
“That means that Delta was five times or five and a half times more likely to put someone in the hospital than Omicron is,” said Green.
Green added that the booster shot appears to be effective in battling the symptoms of the Omicron variant. He said none of the COVID patients in Hawaii’s intensive care units have received a booster shot.
“The take home message is if you’re vaccinated and boosted you won’t end up severely ill,” he said.
But Dr. Scott Miscovich said there are 365,000 who are either unvaccinated or haven’t gotten their second shot — and they remain vulnerable.
“If you are unvaccinated, you have just as likely chance that you could be hospitalized in ICU,” he said.
“We have to stop the rhetoric that this disease is milder. It is not milder if you are not vaccinated. It is so much more contagious.”
Miscovich believes tougher restrictions should be implemented and that a third shot -- the booster -- should be required in order to be considered “fully vaccinated.”
He added that the Omicon surge comes as the health system is facing a shortage of nurses and is being taxed by current case loads.
“Right now our health workers are also getting infected by COVID so that is further putting strain on our health system,” he said.
That strain could be eased if the state is able convince hundreds of federally funded Mainland nurses to return to Hawaii to treat COVID patients.
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