Staffing shortages, reinfections: The year of living with COVID isn’t going as planned

This was supposed to be the year of living with COVID. But it’s shaping up to be another year of struggling through COVID.
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 2:06 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 2, 2022 at 10:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This was supposed to be the year of living with COVID.

But it’s shaping up to be another year of struggling through COVID. From staffing shortages to supply disruptions, residents say the pandemic is still very much having an impact on their daily lives.

And epidemiologists warn that isn’t expected to change anytime soon.

The COVID positivity rate in Hawaii is now hovering around 16% and public health officials are worried the islands could be grappling with another wave as the latest variant circulates and reinfections soar.

“Our teams are still getting COVID,” said Yasuaki Ito, president and executive producer of Made in Hawaii TV, a media company catering to Japanese tourists. “They can’t come do the work, but we try to cover.”

That’s something Gil Leal knows something about, too.

On a recent afternoon, he sat outside with his family eating lunch at SALT at Our Kakaako.

“My family went through COVID. We had it for about a week,” he said.

Leal said he feels the effects of the illness in every restaurant he walks into ― whether it has to do with food shortages or staffing issues.

Kamryn Kepa, general manager at Morning Brew, said she’s been scrambling to cover shifts for sick employees. “When people say they’re not feeling well I say don’t come in, stay home take and care of yourself,” she said.

But Randy March, general manager at Moku Kitchen, said his restaurant feels like it’s finally hitting a normal stride. “I don’t think we’ve seen much of a decrease because of this last wave,” he said.

Marsh said in past COVID waves, he would see fewer customers or many would ask to sit outside.

“I think people are feeling a little bit a little bit safer,” Marsh said. “And then possibly feeling like it’s been going on for some time now.”

Epidemiologist DeWolfe Mille said with the positivity rate going up, it’s clear we have another wave.

“We need to at least be masked up any time we’re going to be around other people that we don’t know,” Miller said, adding that there are still people regularly dying of COVID in hospitals.

The DOH reported 23 COVID deaths in Hawaii last week.

“It’s still very much here,” Miller said.

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