Hawaii sees big drop in COVID hospitalizations, but officials warn we’re not out of the woods

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 3:38 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 4:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State leaders believe Hawaii may have passed the peak of the latest COVID surge, but say it will be several more days until they’re sure.

Two weeks ago, the average daily case count was 858. On Wednesday, it was 557.

At the same time, there has been a significant drop in hospitalizations.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said there were 448 people hospitalized with COVID on Sept. 3. The state is now down to 346.

That’s a sign Hawaii is moving in the right direction, Green said.

But he added Hawaii health officials won’t know for sure until at least Friday. That’s when they’ll get a complete picture of how much the virus spread over Labor Day weekend.

“I suspect our cases have plateaued. And our hospitalizations should drop in the next two weeks. Unless we get a surprise,” Green said.

And while cases are going down, some facilities are still struggling to meet patient needs.

Despite several consecutive days with lower COVID case counts, Hilo Medical Center has yet to see any relief. “Our hospitalization numbers are not dropping. They’re in a level holding pattern if you will,” said Elena Cabatu, the hospital’s director of public affairs.

She said the facility’s COVID pod is full. Capacity of Hilo’s critical care unit is also a concern.

“We currently have 22 intensive care patients in total in our hospital and we have an 11-bed ICU,” she said. “We are able to take care of those patients but it’s a lot of teamwork.”

Some 34 FEMA-funded healthcare workers from the mainland have enabled the hospital to temporarily expand its capacity. But those caregivers will only be deployed in Hawaii a few more weeks.

Green noted, “The only reason we’re able to accommodate this (surge in patients) is because in addition to our extremely devoted healthcare community, we’ve also had 650 healthcare personnel from the mainland.”

While the latest COVID trend looks positive, officials want to remind the public the state has already been through three surges. Their message: If we’re not careful, there could be more.

Cabatu said, “Please people, practice your safety precautions. Get vaccinated if you haven’t yet.”

The state’s vaccination numbers are also steadily climbing.

As of Wednesday, 65.8% of Hawaii residents were fully vaccinated.

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