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Despite rising COVID case counts, Hawaii experts hopeful about pandemic’s trajectory

Omicron and its subvariants are still very infectious, but the illness appears to be less severe.
Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 3:14 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 28, 2022 at 5:54 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s health care facilities say they’re mirroring the governor’s transition from emergency response to public health management when it comes to COVID.

Officials said that’s because the community is more prepared than ever for the disease and its effects.

“We have more and more people that are protected because of the vaccines,” said Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

“Now, more people have also been exposed to the virus because of how prevalent Delta, then Omicron, and now this new subvariant is.”

CONTINUING COVERAGE:

Raethel said there were only 50 people in Hawaii’s hospitals with COVID on Thursday and only two people in the ICU.

Omicron and its subvariants are still very infectious, but the illness appears to be less severe.

That’s what Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center has been seeing in that community.

“That’s the bad news, right? We are seeing cases increase,” said Jacob Schafer, the director of infection control at the center.

Schafer can tell a lot just by tracking what’s happening internally, with employees reporting close contacts and positive tests.

But he isn’t too worried.

“Our vaccination rates are much better in our community on the Waianae Coast right now,” Schafer said. “We also have a good degree of natural immunity because we were hit so hard with Omicron.

“So I’m pretty confident that our community is pretty safe, as compared to say the rest of the country, which in some places still has some pretty low vaccination rates.”

The Leeward Coast was in bad shape in the middle of the pandemic, but they learned a lot from those surges and have better treatments before.

“There are some really great drugs on the market now to treat COVID for those that are positive,” Schafer said. “So we’re ordering more of those drugs and making them available.

“It’s those kinds of preparedness measures that we’re taking now.”

So health care facilities are hopeful even though cases are rising.

“Just like people dying from pneumonia every year, people die from tuberculosis every year,” said Raethel. “But that’s a reality we have to accept.

“But we are much, much better equipped to do it. COVID-19 is becoming just one of those diseases out there that we do need to learn to live with and deal with. But we can deal with it very effectively.”

If you would like to know where to access COVID-19 therapeutics near you, click here.

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