Despite declining COVID case counts, state leaders aren’t convinced the worst is behind us

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 2:32 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 10, 2021 at 5:19 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii had 412 COVID patients in hospitals statewide on Thursday, down 24 from a day before.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the drop is due to a significant number of discharges.

Meanwhile, vaccination numbers are steadily climbing as officials wait to find out whether Labor Day gatherings will drive up case counts again.

“It’s kind of like a tsunami watch,” Green said.

But despite several consecutive days of lower COVID case counts, state leaders still aren’t confident the worst is behind us ― and are concerned there could be fallout from the holiday.

“We don’t know yet and we won’t know until eight to 10 days after last weekend,” Green said.

Hilton Raethel, head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, said resources at hospitals continue to be stretched thin. He worries an influx of patients could force caregivers to ration care. “Increasing our vaccination rate above what it is is really the only way we can control this pandemic,” said

More than 32,000 doses of vaccine have been administered each of the past two weeks, which is double the weekly rate in July.

Officials credit the uptick to mandates by government and businesses as well as the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine late last month.

“There are still 170,000 ... people 12 and older who are not vaccinated, haven’t initiated it,” Green said. “There are another 203,000 keiki who can’t be vaccinated yet.

“That’s where the virus is going for the most part.”

The current consensus in the medical community is that close to 90% of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to control the spread of the Delta variant.

As of Thursday, 64.8% of Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated.

“The reality is to get to 85-90% we do need to get a significant portion of children vaccinated,” Raethel said.

The FDA is expected to grant emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children between the ages of 8 and 11, but it’s still unclear exactly when that might happen.

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