The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 continues to grow, exceeding 100 on Tuesday, a threshold that has not been reached since January.
The state health department reported 103 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in Hawaii on Tuesday, up from 90 on Monday. Of the 103 patients, 20 were in intensive care units and 11 were on ventilators, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
The DOH also reported 162 new confirmed and probable coronavirus infections, the 13th straight day of triple-digit new infections, bringing the total number of the state to 40,984 cases since the pandemic began.
“The rate of increase is very worrying as there is no indication that 103 will be the highest number we will hit,” said Hilton Raethel, President and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, which includes hospitals and senior staff – Nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, home care facilities and other care services. “It has increased day by day. At the moment we are about to cope with that, but we are very close to having to make some adjustments so that we do not completely overwhelm our hospitals and especially our staff. “
Governor David Ige and other officials said Hawaii’s hospital capacity was the main factor in deciding whether to reintroduce restrictions as case numbers and test-positive rates continue to rise.
The largest surge in hospital admissions during the pandemic occurred on September 8 with 315 COVID patients. The numbers fell below the 100 mark in mid-October, but rose again in December before returning to three-digit numbers in January.
The last time the number of hospital admissions exceeded 100 was on January 29 when it was 101.
According to Raethel, this three-digit threshold was the one that the health authorities had been paying attention to, and it unfortunately arrived on Tuesday.
“We haven’t had to postpone surgeries and tests and that sort of thing yet, but we have the potential to get to that point and that’s a real problem,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Hawaii must see new cases decline in the next seven to 10 days or the state’s hospital admissions “get too big” very quickly.
“Unfortunately we are now seeing more young people in the hospital,” Green said in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “For example, in just one hospital, seven of the twelve patients are now between 20 and 30 years old. We are now in a preventable pandemic. Please encourage your friends and family to get vaccinated. “
Raethel said about 50% of COVID-19 patients in hospitals as of Tuesday were under the age of 50 and were generally healthy with no underlying medical conditions.
On the one hand, this may be the reason why the number of intensive care patients has increased in recent weeks, but not dramatically, and the number of ventilators has remained relatively stable.
“They are younger and healthier so they have a better chance of recovery,” he said. “So this is very good news. They don’t spend as long in hospitals as older patients. We don’t have the same death rates. “
On the other hand, the majority of new patients are not vaccinated against COVID-19, and vaccines could have prevented them from landing in hospitals in the first place.
This is disheartening for health care workers who put themselves at risk when treating infectious patents, Raethel said, and many are burned out as they have been battling the pandemic for a year and a half.
The Queen’s healthcare system is seeing more COVID-19 patients, and staff there also recently tested positive due to its spread in the community and in travel, according to the nonprofit healthcare provider.
“Currently, Queen’s has 16 caregivers who recently tested positive for COVID-19,” a statement from Queen said. “Everyone is adequately looked after. All are independent cases and are believed to be community acquired or travel related. There does not appear to be any impact on our patients at this time and all units remain operational. As the number of cases in the community continues to rise, Queen’s is no exception. That’s why we firmly believe in vaccinations and necessary precautionary measures such as wearing a mask and keeping physical distance to prevent the virus from spreading. “
According to the Queen’s health system, 80% of its 8,000+ employees are vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The well-being of our patients and caregivers remains our top priority, and we continue to proactively follow federal and state guidelines to take precautions to ensure we are a safe place to provide quality, compassionate health care and to get, “the statement reads said.
Dr. Janet Berreman, Kauai Health District official, said Monday five coronavirus patients had been hospitalized on the Garden Isle.
“This is the highest number of Kauai residents hospitalized at one time since the pandemic began,” she said during a briefing in the county. “We know that as the disease continues to spread rapidly, we will see more hospitalizations, and unfortunately we can expect more deaths.”
The highly transmissible Delta variety, now the dominant strain in Hawaii and the nation, has shown no signs of weakening.
The seven-day average of daily new cases increased from 185 on Monday to 190 on Tuesday, and the test positive rate increased from 4.6% on Monday to 4.7% on Tuesday.
That means the number of people who test positive for COVID-19 continues to grow, with particularly high seven-day averages in Hawaii County of 7.1% and Honolulu County of 5.0%.
The vaccination rates meanwhile continue to stagnate at around 2,000 doses per day, which, according to Raethel, is not fast enough to forestall the virus. Health officials reported Tuesday that 1,746,867 doses were given, with 59.8% of the Hawaiian population now fully vaccinated.
“We are really running out of opportunities to have more people vaccinated,” said Raethel. “A mandate is one of the last resort.”