COVID numbers improving, but health officials say Hawaii still not in the clear


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The highly contagious delta variant has hit Hawaii hard.

On Aug. 1, there were roughly 3,000 active COVID-19 cases. That number jumped to 8,100 on Aug. 16, and peaked at 11,331 on Sept. 4.

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Two weeks ago, on Sept. 2, the state reported 1,068 new COVID-19 infections; the seven-day average was 881 cases, the positivity rate was above 7.5%, and there were 11,225 active cases in the state.

On Thursday, Sept. 16, the state reported 588 cases, a 6.6% positivity rate, and 8,533 active cases. In the last four weeks, 127 Hawaii residents have died.

“We peaked at 448 in the hospital, and as of today, we’re at 336, which is exactly 25% less,” explained Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

“We are coming down off of that peak right now for the hospitalizations where 3% to 4% of people end up in the hospital, and as that curve moves, fewer people will be sick in the hospital,” he said.

The state health department said hospitals are still near capacity, and the number of ICU patients on neighbor islands exceeds the number of beds, including at Hilo Medical Center.

According to Queen’s Health Systems, as of Wednesday, all 25 patients with COVID in the ICU and all 22 COVID patients on a ventilator are unvaccinated. Health officials said the best way to avoid being hospitalized is to get vaccinated.

“If they happen to catch COVID and even get sick, they go to the hospital for three, four days, and then they go home healthy,” Green said. “If people are unvaccinated, they go to the hospital for three or four weeks, and they risk dying. These are the big distinctions that need to be made.”

Although case numbers haven’t surged above 1,000 since before Labor Day, Green said people need to remain vigilant.

“I don’t want people to let down their guard because we could see it flatten off, drop a little, and then surge again if we make a big mistake. So people should not do large gatherings. They should continue to get vaccinated,” he continued.

Health officials are still monitoring what the delta variant is doing in other countries as booster shots are being discussed.

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

The FDA Advisory Committee will meet on Friday to determine whether vaccinated Americans need a booster shot.

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